How accurate is A Very British Scandal: Was Duchess of Argyll as sordid in real life?
A Very British Scandal: Claire Foy stars in BBC trailer
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A Very British Scandal premiered on Boxing Day on BBC One, retelling the dramatic events surrounding the divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. The three-part mini-series continues tonight, Monday, December 27, at 9pm. Express.co.uk has everything you need to know about the story behind A Very British Scandal.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from A Very British Scandal.
A Very British Scandal is the follow-up story to A Very English Scandal which revolved around the actions of politician Jeremy Thorpe in the 1960s.
While set in the same time period, this latest drama is about a different famous sex scandal.
This time around, the microscope is on Ian Campbell (played by Paul Bettany), the Duke of Argyll, and his wife Margaret (Claire Foy) the Duchess of Argyll.
At the time of their extremely public divorce, the BBC labelled it as “one of the most notorious, extraordinary and brutal legal cases of the 20th century”.
Prior to marrying the Duke, Margaret Whigham was a well-known socialite who already had two children from her first husband.
Her marriage to the Duke lasted 12 years but it was revealed during the divorce that it was far from a happy one.
He reportedly hired a private detective to pretend to be her chauffeur and hired a locksmith to break into one particular cupboard.
The content of this cupboard later became the focus in the divorce case as well as the national newspapers.
Like in A Very British Scandal, in 1963, the Duke did accuse his wife of having affairs with 88 different men.
He went on to provide evidence at the trial in the form of Polaroid photographs which he had taken from the locked cupboard.
Some of the pictures showed the Duchess naked as well as performing a sexual act on someone who famously became known as the “headless man” as his identity wasn’t revealed.
The Duke allegedly went to the doctors to prove his “lesser dimensions” to the man in the picture so it was known she had cheated on him.
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She was also slut-shamed in the media and by the judge in the divorce proceedings who called her a “completely promiscuous woman”.
Her husband provided a list of the alleged 88 men she had cheated on him with.
Years later, it was discovered that many of the men listed were gay but as homosexuality was illegal at the time, Margaret didn’t protest in order to protect them.
Actress Foy said: “I think what’s interesting about the end of their relationship is it plays out in the public domain.
“The end of their relationship is not those two in a room being able to look each other in the eye and go, ‘At one point we loved each other. What happened?’
“It was just messy and so underhand and cruel, and the only way she could reach him was via the newspapers, and that’s how they basically communicated, it felt like.”
A Very British Scandal is available to watch on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
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