The New Tricks actor Amanda Redman has pointed out how American audiences are much more accepting of seeing intimacy between older leads. “I’m watching Madam Secretary and the two leads are in their late 50s and have a really healthy sexual relationship,” she told the Radio Times. “And it’s not repulsive. We in Britain tend to shy away from that. There’s ageism involved there.”
If you look at some of the sex scenes involving over-50s, she has a point – they certainly don’t lack heat and chemistry. Here are some of the best from TV and film.
One of Daniel Craig’s most intriguing film roles before he became James Bond was in The Mother. The sensitive British drama tells the story of the ageing widow May (Anne Reid, 68 at the time), who embarks on a torrid relationship with her daughter’s much younger lover, Darren (Craig, then 35). The director, Roger Michell, didn’t shy away from depicting the lust that drives their affair, with plenty of scenes of the couple half-naked in bed. One of the standout scenes shows Darren pleasuring May, with the camera focused on her ecstatic face.
This cosy and likable romcom stars Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin as Jane and Jake, a divorced couple in their 50s with three grownup children, who start an affair years after they split. The only problem is, he is still married to the younger woman he left her for. After waking up together dishevelled in bed, Jake lovingly cradles Jane’s crotch and declares: “Home sweet home.” The scene shows that familiarity and being at ease with each others’ bodies can still be passionate.
Grace and Frankie
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin portray Grace and Frankie, two friends who were once bitter rivals, brought together when their respective husbands leave them to marry each other in this funny Netflix show. The characters are both in their 70s but are still happily embracing single life; they enjoy sex, use sex toys and even make their own lube. One moment in particular – when Fonda’s Grace gets it on with love interest Phil (Sam Elliott) and the camera doesn’t cut away – proves that a mature sex scene is just as steamy and sensual.
Julianne Moore, who was 58 when she made Gloria Bell, is luminous as a free-spirited fiftysomething divorcee who escapes the grind of everyday life by going dancing. On a night out, she meets Arnold (John Turturro) and the pair start dating. The sex scenes between the two actors are remarkable for how heady, intimate and honest they feel. In one scene, Gloria is shown topless in bed while the pair talk after an afternoon spent making love – a beautiful moment of tenderness.
Sex and the City
The raunchy HBO show about the lives and many loves of four women in New York was a game-changer in its nuanced depiction of female sexuality on TV. And no one portrayed the power of female desire as fearlessly as Samantha (Kim Cattrall), the oldest of the group. Her many sexual escapades included having sex with a firefighter in the back of a fire engine, sleeping with a woman and watching her neighbours make love. The Sex and the City films that followed weren’t as good as the TV series (OK, they were terrible), but the second one did show Samantha as a 52-year-old dealing with the menopause. She refuses to let it get in the way of her love of sex and ends up doing it on the beach with a handsome architect.