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Claire Foy and Paul Bettany to star in series about Argyll divorce

Claire Foy and Paul Bettany (PA)
Claire Foy and Paul Bettany (PA)

Claire Foy and Paul Bettany will play the Duke and Duchess of Argyll in A Very British Scandal, it has been announced.

The drama, about the couple’s high-profile divorce in the 1960s, will be made by the team behind the BBC’s A Very English Scandal, which starred Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw as politician Jeremy Thorpe and his lover Norman Scott.

Foy will play Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, who was famed for her charisma, beauty and style, and who 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.

A Very British Scandal will explore the social and political climate of post-war Britain and look at attitudes towards women to ask whether institutional misogyny was widespread at the time.

The series will be written by Sarah Phelps, who previously wrote The Pale Horse, And Then There Were None and Dublin Murders.

She said: “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.”

DUCHESS OF ARGYLL
The Duchess of Argyll in 1963 (PA)

The three-part series will be directed by Norwegian filmmaker Anne Sewitsky, with filming take place later this year.

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, judgment and controversy surrounds a woman’s sexuality.”

Bettany added: “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.”

The series will premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK and be available on Amazon Prime Video in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Piers Wenger, director of BBC Drama, said: “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.”

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