TV review: Masters of Sex (Channel 4, 9pm)
Sixties sexperts fall out over saucy study
It's a good job Michael Sheen doesn't embarrass easily. Masters of Sex would hardly have the clout it does if its lead actor was blushing bright red at every provocative line he utters.
This new 1950s-set drama, in which he stars alongside Lizzie Caplan, has a risqué format, but, pardon the pun, has bedded in well.
The programme documents American gynaecologist William Masters' pioneering research with Virginia Johnson into the nature of human sexual response.
For Hollywood A-lister Sheen, this is the latest in a string of credits for his CV (he's recently played Tony Blair, Brian Clough, David Frost, Kenneth Williams and Hamlet) ) but the actor is clear on what attracted him to Masters of Sex.
"Well, it's about a subject that I think is fascinating to people," he explains. "Regardless of whether it's set in the 1950s or the present day, it's something that everybody, in one way or another, has to deal with on a daily basis. I thought the character of Bill Masters was fascinating; very shut off, very difficult to read, and very difficult to know what's going on in his mind.
"Also, exploring the life of a man who's chosen to work in an area that inevitably leads to him having to reveal a lot of himself both physically and, more importantly, emotionally is an interesting challenge for a character."
Sheen also talks of the doctor's relationship with Johnson, explaining how he realised early on his social skills weren't necessarily that developed and she brought a whole set of different skills to the team.
Last night's second instalment, saw Johnson wondering how to keep her job, since Masters' proposal that they participate in the sexual response study. Masters believed Johnson was to blame for the study being forced out of the hospital, so while she fought for her job and tried to care for her children, he moved the study to a brothel. Genius? Not really. He found the place chaotic and unmanageable without his partner's help.