Wanderlust, starring Hollywood actress Toni Collette, has romping and two scenes featuring masturbation in the first seven minutes of the six-part series.
And even Auntie’s drama boss Piers Wenger has admitted he is “terrified” by the potential response.
He said: “We’ve never seen anything like it on BBC One.”
Australian Toni, 45, plays frustrated therapist Joy Richards, who demands an open marriage following a fling.
In one of the show’s steamiest scenes, she is sexually stimulated by a policeman — but Toni said she was happy to throw herself into the role.
She said: “You can’t half-heartedly act that, you have to make it feel real.
"You can tell when you’re watching something if it’s not energetically right.
“I had no reservations, sex is a part of life and it’s a very lifelike show.
"It’s just nice for it to be out in the open.
"I was nervous at first but by the end of it I had no concerns.”
The show is a Netflix co-production from the team that made Dr Foster and is due to air next month. It also stars The Halcyon’s Steven Mackintosh, 51, as Joy’s husband Alan and Fresh Meat’s Zawe Ashton, 34.
Luke Snellin, one of the drama’s directors, said: “The most interesting part of it is it being on BBC One.
“The audience that BBC One brings is the perfect audience to be challenged.”
Brief history of BBC sauce
- Versailles has just finished its third series exploring the reign of France’s King Louis XIV — filled with gay sex, cross-dressing and orgies.
- In 2002, Tipping the Velvet explored lesbianism and sex toy romps.
- Lady Chatterley, in 1993, was a steamy adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s novel.
- Hundreds complained about 1987’s explicit Dennis Potter drama The Singing Detective.
- And Roman drama I, Claudius shocked in 1976 with sex, nudity and lesbian snogs.
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