CHANNEL 4 is to screen a drama which depicts Princess Margaret engaging in graphic sex scenes and taking drugs.
Details of the film, called The Queen's Sister, emerged yesterday as the network unveiled its autumn season of programmes.
Starring Lucy Cohu as Margaret, the drama revolves around the late 1950s and 1960s when the young Princess was revered by the public as a beautiful and stylish socialite, and follows her more controversial years in the 1970s, holidaying on the Caribbean island of Mustique.
Several scenes are bound to provoke fierce controversy. Margaret is shown performing a sex act, engaging in a lesbian kiss and smoking "a strange cigarette", clearly meant to be cannabis, at a party.
Channel 4's director of television Kevin Lygo said: "I don't know if Her Majesty will be watching, but we could send her a DVD.
"I think some people will find it quite arresting and challenging. It's factually accurate and it's a racy romp."
The two-hour film covers Princess Margaret's youthful and doomed romance with Royal Air Force Group Captain Peter Townsend, a Battle of Britain hero and a divorcee.
The moral climate of the time made it unthinkable that the Queen's sister could marry a divorced man, and in 1955 Margaret announced she would not wed Townsend. She went on to marry the Earl of Snowdon, but the couple divorced in 1978, making Margaret the first divorcee in the queen's immediate family.
The Princess's private life continued to be mired in unhappiness and controversy.
Amid reports of a growing rift with Lord Snowdon, Margaret found comfort with a younger man, Roddy Llewellyn, who she met at the Caf Royal in Edinburgh in 1973.
Margaret's marriage collapsed when she was photographed with Llewellyn on Mustique.
In later years, the Princess performed some royal duties but increasingly withdrew from public life amid worsening health.
A heavy smoker, she suffered a series of strokes and appeared in a wheelchair at the Queen Mother's 101st birthday celebrations. She died in February 2002.
Keeping up the royal theme, the other major drama commissioned by Channel 4 portrays the life of another controversial female figure.
The two-part film about the life of Elizabeth I stars Helen Mirren as the Virgin Queen and Jeremy Irons as the Earl of Leicester. The four-hour production, entitled Elizabeth I, features the Queen's later life and the intense pressure on her to produce an heir.
Away from drama, Channel 4 announced plans to create an online database of Britain's First World War dead as part of a series marking the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
Working with Imperial War Museum and the UK National Inventory of War Memorials, the channel plans to list the names from all First World War memorials across Britain in a database to which people can upload pictures and documents.
Princess Michael of Kent is taking part in a new TV documentary which follows her as she tries to sell her 18th century home.
The one-hour programme follows the outspoken royal as she attempts to sell Nether Lypiatt, a 16-acre Grade I listed manor house property near Stroud, which is on the market for 6 million.