When I Say No I Mean No; CHRISTMAS PARTIES, FREE-FLOWING DRINKS, FLIRTATIOUS GLANCES . . . THEY'RE ALL PART OF THE FESTIVE SEASON. BUT WHAT BEGINS AS FUN CAN END IN TEARS AND TRAUMA. TV WRITER OL PARKER TALKS TO HILARY KINGSLEY ABOUT HIS HARD-HITTING NEW `DATE RAPE' DRAMA

By Kingsley, Hilary | Sunday Mirror (London, England), December 7, 1997 | Go to article overview

When I Say No I Mean No; CHRISTMAS PARTIES, FREE-FLOWING DRINKS, FLIRTATIOUS GLANCES . . . THEY'RE ALL PART OF THE FESTIVE SEASON. BUT WHAT BEGINS AS FUN CAN END IN TEARS AND TRAUMA. TV WRITER OL PARKER TALKS TO HILARY KINGSLEY ABOUT HIS HARD-HITTING NEW `DATE RAPE' DRAMA


Kingsley, Hilary, Sunday Mirror (London, England)


She was up for it, that was pretty clear. That's what he said in court, anyway. That's what his friends said too. They were witnesses, in the pub and at the party.

After the party he took her home and she let him up to her room - for coffee, she said. Everyone knows that "coffee" after a date is code for sex. Bad sex, he had to admit later. But it was worse for her. The worst. She called it rape.

But, hey, come on, say his friends. She wasn't stupid. She must have known what would happen, letting him into her room, her being so beautiful and all.

And where's the harm, anyway?

This casual, dismissive attitude to one of the most traumatic of all crimes is one cause of the huge gulf between male and female attitudes to "date rape". And it's at the heart of In Your Dreams, a powerful new BBC film drama which allows both sides to have their say.

Flashbacks show the events from the perspective of the accused rapist and his victim, who are both students. But in the end the film aims to blitz the belief that in today's world of accepted casual sex, no "normal" man forces himself brutally on a woman after a date, and if he does, isn't it all her own fault for being such a nasty little tease?

One of the more surprising things about the drama, to be screened on BBC2 next Sunday, is that it was written by a man - 27-year-old Cambridge graduate Ol Parker.

At first he was uncomfortable tackling such a difficult subject, but the BBC twisted his arm. He had already established his credentials as a writer in tune with "youth culture" with Loved Up, an earlier TV drama which took a clear-eyed view at Ecstasy and the drug culture in 1990s Britain.

"They wanted me to write something else for them," says the tall, talented Parker, not long out of university himself.

"I had a vague idea of something light about the confusion between the sexual signals given out by men and women. But Elinor Day, the producer, suggested I researched rape. I was horrified and I went back later and said it was a minefield, I couldn't do it, I'd get it wrong. But she was insistent."

So Parker, a judge's son from North London, began talking to women he knew, asking them about their experience of being coerced into sex. He was amazed to find that so many of them, often those who seemed the most confident, reported traumatic episodes.

"I didn't have to search far to find women who had experienced date rape," he says. "So many women had a story to tell - some were near misses, others were ultimately horrible. It made me aware that I really ought to write about it.

"I know that some people will say I can't write about this without having suffered from rape or been accused of it myself. All that I can say is that every line in the film comes from the mouth of a real person."

The film stars rising Hollywood star Thandie Newton as Clare, a nervous new arrival on a university campus. …

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When I Say No I Mean No; CHRISTMAS PARTIES, FREE-FLOWING DRINKS, FLIRTATIOUS GLANCES . . . THEY'RE ALL PART OF THE FESTIVE SEASON. BUT WHAT BEGINS AS FUN CAN END IN TEARS AND TRAUMA. TV WRITER OL PARKER TALKS TO HILARY KINGSLEY ABOUT HIS HARD-HITTING NEW `DATE RAPE' DRAMA
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