Like Joy in Wanderlust, Collette said she found it hard to keep her career, children and marriage on track. Picture: AP

London - Most actresses would probably prefer to keep quiet about this sort of thing.

But not 45-year-old Toni Collette, who is happy to boast about being the first woman to have an orgasm on BBC1.

Upcoming series Wanderlust sees the Australian star play Joy Richards, a therapist trying to save her relationship with her husband, played by Steven Mackintosh, after a cycling accident makes her reassess it.

"Someone told me I was the first woman to have an orgasm on the BBC... and I’m happy to take the accolade," she told Radio Times. In one of the opening scenes, the camera lingers on Collette’s face as she lies in bed with her eyes closed and gasps with pleasure – before being interrupted when her son opens the door.

Later there is a longer sex scene lasting nearly a minute, in which she throws her head back with wide eyes and her mouth open.

The honest depiction of female pleasure on screen attracted Collette to the show, which is co-produced by Netflix.

She said: "It’s so honest and fresh in the way the women are portrayed. To be a middle-aged woman, to be in a long-term relationship and to be alive, dealing with a lot of things – it’s tough. Certainly a middle-aged woman’s sense of self-esteem, of sexuality, is not often talked about."

However, the actress admitted she was anxious about filming the sex scenes in the series. "But I got over it quite quickly," she added. "The more empathy I have with the character, the easier it is and it’s an important story – it’s representative of a big truth that’s got no real voice." 

Like Joy in "Wanderlust," Collette said she found it hard to keep her career, children and marriage on track.

The star, who has a son and daughter and is married to musician Dave Galafassi, said: "When you’re in your 20s and alone, you can afford to be selfish and I really wish that I’d enjoyed it much more." 

She added: "My children are the lights of my life and I certainly can’t imagine my life without them. But I can’t imagine my life without acting either and it’s good for them to see me being passionate and working hard."

BBC viewers have become accustomed to steamy sex scenes in dramas, including last year’s second series of Dr Foster and current show Bodyguard.

A spokesperson for Wanderlust could not confirm whether this will be the first time a female orgasm has been shown on the channel but said the show was "the most frank drama about sex and relationships ever on BBC1".