Princess Diana's secret tapes scandal to become a play

Naomi Gordon
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Digital Spy

The royal scandal surrounding the public release of Princess Diana's private and personal tapes is being adapted into a play.

The Diana Tapes will centre on how journalist Andrew Morton obtained the secret tape recordings from the late Princess of Wales, before they were published in Morton's 1992 book Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words.

Photo credit: Getty Images

During the time of the controversial book's release, Diana's marriage with Prince Charles was breaking down. The revelations that Diana had suffered from bulimia, and Charles was having an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, caused a huge media storm at the time.

The book also claimed that Diana had endured mental health issues and tried to take her own life a number of times, which were described as "cries for help".

The disclosures about Diana and her private life changed the public's perception of the royal family.

Scottish playwright and actor James Clements – son of Newsnight host Kirsty Wark – has written the play which will debut in New York in May, before coming to London's Stockwell Playhouse in June.

Photo credit: CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP / Getty Images

Clements was born when the book was published, and says his fascination with Diana began when he moved to New York to study at 18.

"Whenever there was a British history course everyone would look to me," Clements said (via The Evening Standard). "It made me think that, growing up as a Brit, you kind of take it for granted. I started to unpack it in my own head. I think I really see [Diana's] stamp on the modern world."

He also describes the one-hour play as "a kind of thriller".

Clements will play Morton, while New York-based Venezuelan actress Ana Cristina Schuler will play Diana.

The writer and actor also ruminated that the royal family have been heavily influenced by Diana's legacy by becoming "more transparent" and "more human".

"The tapes were a damning indictment of this family who were incapable of functioning in the modern world," Clements continued.

"It is funny because the House of Windsor have actually responded to them massively and they are now more transparent, more human; you have got Harry marrying an actress, William on the cover of GQ. She may not have lived to see it but it is Diana's monarchy."

Photo credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

The play will be set between Morton's office and the room where the Princess recorded her secrets to her friend Dr James Colthurst.

Meanwhile, Morton told Harper's Bazaar UK: "I will be fascinated to see how James plays me and how they depict this remarkable conspiracy between princess, author, go between and publisher."

The author also suggested that the TV and film industry is less afraid of upsetting the royal family following the success and critical acclaim of The Crown.

"It shows how far the wheel has turned. In 2002 a full scale film about the same subject, called the Biographer, could not get a UK release even though it starred Brian Cox, Faye Dunaway, Hugh Bonneville and Paul McGann as yours truly.

"The TV networks were terrified of offending the royal family. Now we have The Crown which is, in essence, a saucy series of erotic couplings lashed together with brilliant dialogue and a dollop of royal history."

The Diana Tapes attracted critical acclaim during its run at the Edinburgh Festival in August 2016.

Want up-to-the-minute entertainment news and features? Just hit 'Like' on our Digital Spy Facebook page and 'Follow' on our @digitalspy Twitter account and you're all set.