Emmy and Golden Globe winner Claire Foy (The Crown; Wolf Hall) and Bafta-nominated Paul Bettany (WandaVision; Uncle Frank; Avengers: Infinity War) will lead the cast of BBC One and Amazon Studios’ A Very British Scandal, from the makers of the multi-award winning and much lauded A Very English Scandal, Blueprint Pictures.
Written by Sarah Phelps (The Pale Horse; Dublin Murders), A Very British Scandal focuses on the divorce of the Duke (Paul Bettany) and Duchess of Argyll (Claire Foy), one of the most notorious, extraordinary and brutal legal cases of the 20th century.
Famed for her charisma, beauty and style, Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, dominated the front pages as a divorce featuring accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drug-taking, secret recording, bribery and an explicit polaroid picture - all played out in the white-hot glare of the 1960s media.
A Very British Scandal turns this scandal inside out in order to explore the social and political climate of post-war Britain, looking at attitudes towards women, and asking whether institutional misogyny was widespread at the time. As her contemporaries, the press, and the judiciary sought to vilify her, Margaret kept her head held high with bravery and resilience, refusing to go quietly as she was betrayed by her friends and publicly shamed by a society that revelled in her fall from grace.
Sarah Phelps says: “Writing the story of Margaret’s life and the events leading up to and including her divorce from the Duke has been a passion project of mine since 1993 when I first heard her name and started learning about her. I felt very strongly that she’d been punished for being a woman, for being visible, for refusing to back down, be a good girl and go quietly. This drama is my tribute to her.”
Claire Foy said: “I’m so excited to work with Anne, Sarah and Paul on this extraordinary project, and to explore through this story, how often shame, judgement and controversy surrounds a woman's sexuality.”
Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, says: “Argyll v Argyll was one of the defining scandals of the 1960s. In the face of vilification in the press, Margaret fought valiantly, but often in vain, to control the narrative around her. With the help of our incredible writer Sarah Phelps, director Anne Sewitsky, the perfect casting of Claire Foy and Paul Bettany and the team at Blueprint, we are delighted to be able to shine a new light on these events and reframe the life of this infamous character.”
Filming will take place across the United Kingdom later this year. Further casting will follow in due course.