PASSION Victims; AS THE SEDUCTIVE TALE OF MADAME BOVARY IS BROUGHT TO THE SCREEN WE MEET THE DRAMA'S SEXY STARS

Article excerpt

FIRST-TIME dad Greg Wise is about to become the nation's newest cad as he sets out to seduce a married woman in TV drama Madame Bovary, while Aussie actress Frances O'Connor is only too willing to fall into his open arms. TV writer MARION McMULLEN catches up with the stars of the seductive new telly epic.

WHENEVER actor Greg Wise comes on screen you can smell the hormones in the air," jokes television producer Tony Redston.

It is easy to see what he means. Greg got his looks from the tall, dark and handsome drawer and swept Oscar winner Emma Thompson off her feet when they worked together on hit film Sense And Sensibility. Now the architect- turned actor is fastening up the starched collars and buttoning the waistcoats once again to help turn an 1857 novel into the steamiest drama to come BBC 2's way in a long time.

Greg plays a charming rogue who tempts Madame Bovary along the path of adultery, but in real life the only female he has eyes for is his new baby daughter, Gaia Romily.

He and Emma Thompson became parents last December and are enjoying family life with their new bundle of joy.

Determined to be a hands-on dad, Greg has been taking stock of his working life and how to balance his new responsibilities.

But he has one problem solved already - where to find a baby-sitter.

He and Emma live in the same street as Emma's actress sister Sophie and their actress mum Phyllida Law.

Sophie's husband is also Richard Lumsden, creator of ITV series Wonderful You, in which Greg starred.

Greg says he enjoys being surround by family and friends and loves playing happy families, despite the obvious lure of offers from Hollywood for both parents.

"Emma and I spent nine months living in Los Angeles a couple of years ago," explains the 33-year-old actor.

"I think it is a wonderful place to go and work in but, for me, I just have to come home.

"It isn't xenophobia or jingoism. It is because I am 'general' and that place is very specific. It is a one-industry town and I need more balance than that.

"OK there are 300 hours of sunshine, you have the pool, you have the car, there are great restaurants, shops and the beach and that is wonderful for a chunk of time. It depends on what you want." He continues: "If you want to be rock 'n' roll and be on set all the time, film throughout the world and do all the premieres and the parties, then, all strength to you. But that is really not me.

"I have never met so many dissatisfied and unhappy people as when I was living there.

"People who have it all - and yet have nothing. …