a very british scandal

You can’t get more British than this: very British actors Claire Foy (The Crown) and Paul Bettany (WandaVision, almost on The Crown) are set to star in BBC One and Amazon Studios’ A Very British Scandal, a limited series based on the divorce of a duke and duchess who are presumably much more famous (or maybe infamous) in the U.K. than in the U.S.

Amazon and BBC One announced that Bettany and Foy are set to star as the Duke and Duchess of Argyll in A Very British Scandal, a series based on their divorce that would become one of the most “notorious, extraordinary and brutal legal cases of the 20th Century.”

A three-episode limited series, A Very British Scandal comes from the team behind Amazon and Blueprint Picture’s A Very English Scandal, starring Hugh Grant in a dramatization of the Jeremy Thorpe affair. A Very British Scandal is being touted as the second season of the anthology series. Sarah Phelps takes the reins from original creator Russell T. Davies to write A Very British Scandal, which focuses on glamorous divorcee Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, as she weathers accusations of “forgery, theft, violence, drug-taking” and all manner of media misogyny.

Here is the synopsis for A Very British Scandal:

Famed for her charisma, beauty and style, Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, dominated the front pages as a divorcee 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 toward 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.

“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,” Phelps said in a statement.

It will certainly be a dramatically different role for Foy, whose last stint starring as British royalty was as the famously buttoned-up Queen Elizabeth II. While Foy has tried her hand at action heroes and unhinged women, it’ll be exciting to see her unleashed as a glamorous and willful woman in ’60s Britain. “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,” Foy said of the project.

Added Paul Bettany, recently coming off a stellar turn in WandaVision, “I’m delighted to be working with the remarkable Claire Foy to tell the fascinating and scandalous story of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll and their very complicated lives. I’m also extremely happy to get the chance to once again be working with the wonderful teams at the BBC and Amazon Studios.”

A Very British Scandal will be directed by Anne Sewitsky and produced by Chris Ballantyne. Executive producers are Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Diarmuid McKeown and Delyth Scudamore for Blueprint Pictures, Lucy Richer for the BBC, Sarah Phelps, Anne Sewitsky, Claire Foy, Kate Triggs, and Dominic Treadwell-Collins. Amazon Studios is co-producing in the US. Filming will take place across the United Kingdom later this year. Further casting will follow in due course.

All three episodes of A Very British Scandal will premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK, and will be available on Amazon Prime Video in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

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