Starring Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Emilia Fox and Ben Miles and shining a light on the Profumo Affair of 1963, The Trial of Christine Keeler “takes a fresh look at one of the most infamous British stories.”
According to the BBC, the drama will take us “behind the headlines to tell a human story about the sexual and cultural politics of one of the most revealing and iconic stories of modern times.”
Here’s what you need to know about one of the most intriguing scandals in British history that’s being brought to life this Christmas on prime time TV…
When is The Trial of Christine Keeler on TV?
Part three of the show is on Sunday 5th January at 9pm on BBC One.
Is there a trailer for The Trial of Christine Keeler?
Yes – and it looks every bit as dramatic as you’d expect!
What is The Trial of Christine Keeler about?
This six-part drama, penned by BAFTA-winning novelist and screenwriter Amanda Coe, will focus in on the woman at the centre of the Profumo affair: a 19-year-old model called Christine Keeler.
The Profumo affair was a political scandal in 1960s Britain which took place at the height of the Cold War and led to fears of a national security breach, ultimately contributing to the fall of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and his government. There were also huge personal repercussions for everyone caught up in the scandal.
In 1961, Christine Keeler was a model and topless showgirl who worked at Murray’s Cabaret Club in Soho, where she met Stephen Ward, an English osteopath and artist who moved in fashionable circles and had many important friends.
Ward took her under his wing and introduced her to one of those important men – John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War. Though Profumo was married, the two had a brief sexual relationship.
Ward also introduced her to Captain Yevgeny “Eugene” Ivanov, a Soviet naval attaché, and when the whole scandal came out there were reports that Keeler may have been simultaneously involved with Profumo and Ivanov. The public wondered: had there been a security risk? Had any vital information been passed on to a Cold War rival?
In March 1963, responding to rumours, Profumo made a personal statement to the House of Commons and denied any impropriety. Prime Minister Macmillan backed him. But just a few weeks later, Profumo refuted his own statement, admitted the truth and resigned as an MP.
Politically, the impact was huge: Macmillan resigned as PM in October 1963 and the Conservative Party lost the general election in 1964.
But this was not the only repercussion.
Stephen Ward was put on trial for a number of vice charges, including ‘living off immoral earnings’ from Keeler and her friend Mandy Rice-Davies. Ward was convicted but, just before he could be sentenced, killed himself with a fatal overdose.
The fallout for Keeler herself was also huge. Having first caught the media’s attention after a shooting incident between two of her lovers, she was subject to intense scrutiny as the Profumo affair was revealed.
Actress Sophie Cookson, who will play Keeler, said this was “an illuminating script about a vivid, complex woman who has previously, it seems, been reduced and misunderstood,” adding: “Now feels like the perfect time to reconsider her life, and redress the balance.”
Who is in the cast of The Trial of Christine Keeler?
Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Emilia Fox and Ben Miles will lead the high-profile cast.
Sophie Cookson is best known for her role as secret agent Roxy Morton in the Kingsman movies. She will star as Keeler, a 19-year-old model who had a brief sexual affair a government minister.
The Crown actor Ben Miles is set to play War Secretary John Profumo, while Silent Witness and Strangers star Emilia Fox joins the cast as his wife Valerie Hobson.
Ellie Bamber will play Keeler’s friend Mandy Rice-Davies.
Happy Valley star James Norton will play Stephen Ward – an osteopath, an artist, and a socialite. He knew Keeler and Profumo, and also the Soviet naval attaché Captain Yevgeny Ivanov (played by Visar Vishka) with whom Keeler was accused of simultaneously conducting an affair.
Further cast includes Anthony Welsh as Aloysius ‘Lucky’ Gordon, and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Johnny Edgecombe – two of Keeler’s lovers.