The Trial of Christine Keeler: New BBC drama starring Sophie Goodchild and Ben Miles takes fresh angle on Profumo affair

BBC/Ecosse Films/Ben Blackall
BBC/Ecosse Films/Ben Blackall

A new drama about the Profumo affair begins on BBC One tonight, aiming to tell the story of one of the biggest scandals to shake British politics in the 20th century through the experience of the woman at its centre.

The Trial of Christine Keeler, featuring Kingsman actress Sophie Cookson, examines the sexual and cultural politics of the events that almost destroyed Harold Macmillan's government.

Keeler's affairs with John Profumo - who was the Secretary of State for War - and a Russian diplomat at the height of the Cold War dominated headlines in the 1960s.

Profumo, who was eventually forced to resign after lying to Parliament about the affair, is played by Ben Miles. Stephen Ward (James Norton) was also tried for living off "immoral earnings" after claims that he introduced women - including Keeler - to rich clients.

The six-part series was written by novelist Amanda Coe, who said re-tellings of the scandal had never been told from the point of Keeler - then a 19-year-old model - and her friend Mandy Rice Davies.

“Once you start researching the story, the thing that really strikes you is what it must have felt like to be Christine Keeler,” she told the Guardian.

“She and Mandy became famous for being famous, and then added to this was the political espionage scandal and the fact that she was absolutely vilified as this slut who had brought down the government.”

Nocturnal Animals actress Ellie Bamber plays Rice-Davies, while Emilia Fox is Profumo’s wife Valerie.

Profumo died in 2006 and Keeler passed away in 2017.

The Trial Of Christine Keeler, directed by Andrea Harkin, is on BBC One at 9pm.

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