Succession writer Jesse Armstrong: I don’t like the pressure on actors to do sex scenes

Jesse Armstrong said it ‘felt very possible’ that Succession would only run for one season (Suzan Moore/PA) (PA Wire)
Jesse Armstrong said it ‘felt very possible’ that Succession would only run for one season (Suzan Moore/PA) (PA Wire)

Succession writer Jesse Armstrong has said he doesn’t like putting sex scenes in his shows because of the discomfort it can cause for actors.

“It’s difficult, especially as a male showrunner, the whole history of TV, the pressure on people… to do parts where they might have to have some nudity,” Armstrong, pictured, said recently.

Speaking of the “hidden” pressure on stars, he added: “There’s an incredibly strong hierarchical power structure on a TV show… you’ve got to be pretty sure about what you’re doing and extremely smart to make it comfortable for everyone involved.”

Succession, whose final series aired this year, has few sex scenes, which Armstrong said he was “pleased” about. “The bits of sex we wanted to do, we would show before anyone got naked,” he said.

Sex on screen has become a talking point, including debate over use of “intimacy coordinators”, who make actors comfortable. You star Penn Badgley says he won’t do sex scenes out of respect for his wife, while some called Florence Pugh’s nudity in Oppenheimer “gratuitous”.

Sir Keir gets moody like Tony

Keir Starmer and Tony Blair (Labour manifestos)
Keir Starmer and Tony Blair (Labour manifestos)

Remind you of anyone? This year’s Labour conference guide, out this week, is decorated with a striking portrait of Sir Keir Starmer, rather than the usual Labour-red graphic design. It’s very like the 1997 Labour manifesto, in which Tony Blair appeared similarly solemn on the cover. Starmer has been accused of being a Blair tribute act of late, and not everyone is impressed. “It’s not 1997. There’s no point grasping for a policy mix stuffed down the back of a 1990s sofa,” said Unite leader Sharon Graham yesterday.

Truss book gets mocked


This time last year, the wheels were already starting to fall off Liz Truss’s brief tenure in Downing Street. Despite her failure, she’s writing a peculiarly confident book, which will be called Ten Years To Save The West.

Truss is so discredited that Scottish publishing house Canongate have mocked rival Biteback for planning to print the tome at all. “I am surprised it’s going to be a full book. I was expecting her debut to follow par for course and be half a hastily scribbled A4 page,” a spokesperson said online. They also offered some wry advice: “Idea for the campaigns team: If you can get it into supermarkets, get some bays offering £10 off when bought with a lettuce.”

Holden’s holding something

Amanda Holden was a bit cheeky at the launch of her Sky show Sex: A Bonkers History at a Soho hotel last night. Despite the saucy snap, our reviewer gave it three stars, and said it’s “rather tame”.

Earlier in the day, Sienna Miller, who is pregnant, got on the phone to help raise cash for children’s charity Starlight at City firm BGC’s fundraising day. Davina McCall was there too, along with a friendly meerkat, giving her support to Action Medical Research.

In Shepherd’s Bush, Sir Lenny Henry was at the press night of Red Pitch, a show about gentrification at The Bush Theatre, while teen acting star Millie Bobby Brown is in town this week as she launches her first novel Nineteen Steps.