December 29, 2019
As we all now sit in the post-Christmas, pre-New Year limbo, no doubt you’re in need of a brand new drama to sink your teeth into. 
The Trial Of Christine Keeler Explained – Including The Real Story Of The Profumo Affair
Luckily, the BBC have just the ticket, as Sunday night sees the launch of their new six-part series The Trial Of Christine Keeler, which takes a look at one of the most iconic scandals of modern times. 
Here’s everything you need to know about it...The Trial Of Christine Keeler recounts the real-life scandal of the Profumo affairThe Profumo affair is one of the most infamous British stories of the 20th century, which began in 1961 with an illicit sexual relationship between Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, and 19-year-old wannabe model Christine Keeler.
Christine was working as a topless cabaret dancer in London’s Soho when she met socialite Stephen Ward, who introduced her to a wild party scene. Through him, she met Cabinet minister Profumo, as well as Soviet spy Yevgeny Ivanov. When details of her affair with Profumo began to emerge in 1963, it was revealed she had also had a relationship with Ivanov, sparking fears of a possible Cold Ward security risk.
Profumo denied any impropriety in a public statement to the House of Commons, but weeks later, amid growing media interest in the story, he admitted he had lied and resigned from the government and parliament.
Ward was subsequently arrested and charged with living off immoral earnings, after claims that he introduced women, including Keeler, to rich clients. He killed himself before the trial’s verdict was announced.In the December of that year, Keeler was sentenced to six months in prison for perjury and obstruction of justice. 
Harold Macmillan, the Tory prime minister who Profumo served under, also resigned amid the scandal, which is often credited with changing the Conservative party forever, as well as creating the distrust between politicians and the media. This adaptation will tell Keeler’s side of the storyThis six-part drama takes us behind the headlines to tell a story about sexual and cultural politics and a young woman who the powerful, male-dominated establishment sought to silence.
But while the tale has previously been told with a focus on the actions of the men involved, this adaptation looks particularly at the effects felt by Christine Keeler. Writer Amanda Coe explains: “When I looked into the story more deeply I was surprised that most people knew about Stephen Ward’s trial, but not a lot was known about Christine’s. Her trial didn’t end as dramatically as Stephen Ward’s, but it had a huge impact on her life.
“It seemed such a crucial part of the story that the criminal justice system turned against her. There were two elements to that, which were that Christine not only endured a criminal trial but also a trial of public opinion. She was vilified in the court of public opinion and there’s some restitution in seeing her side of the story, despite the consequences, which for Christine, were pretty horrific.”
Star Sophie Cookson, who plays Keeler, says this version of the story is “incredibly important” as “we are seeing lots of cases in court right now that have been viewed through a male lens - the Kavanaugh [Brett Kavanaugh/Christine Blasey Ford] hearing for example”.
“Christine Keeler was not allowed a voice,” she says. “There were so many men who were imposing their views and opinions onto her and they decided who she was. Christine never had the opportunity to truly give her side of the story.
“With this amazing third wave of feminism it’s such an exciting and pivotal moment to be looking at this story with a female gaze. This story just encapsulates a woman who was trapped by society’s restraints. It’s quite a moving thing to say but it feels like she is being released and she is finally free to tell it how it was.”It boasts a very impressive castAs already mentioned, the Christine Keeler is played by Sophie Cookson (Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Huntsman: Winter’s War), who said she felt a “huge amount of responsibility to do Christine justice”.“Christine herself was so determined that she did not ever want to be portrayed as a victim and so that was the most important thing for me,” she says. “I’ve never played a real character before and so there is a really fine line between wanting to get it right and knowing when to stop reading all of the research and looking at YouTube videos.”
James Norton (Happy Valley, Grantchester, McMafia) plays Stephen Ward, the London socialite who introduces Keeler to Profumo.The actor says he was fascinated with the man, who be believed “you would be entirely seduced by him and want more of his company” if you were to meet him now. 
“One can’t escape the fact that he did groom young women, and that is inexcusable. But why did he do that, and what it did for him is also what’s interesting,” he explains. 
“Stephen was eccentric but he also had a sinister and sad side to him and that again makes for an interesting character to play, with all his vulnerability and layers.”
Profumo is played by Ben Miles (Coupling, The Crown, The Capture), who says the story is particularly relevant to the times we are currently living in. He says: “Their story played out under the glare of the mass media and the press used this story in order to gain a political end. The old world collided with the new, and the media witnessed and manipulated this to their own end in order to make a change in society.
“That’s something that is happening all the time these days, but this series depicts the first time that we saw this play out. I find it fascinating.” 
Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals, BBC’s Les Misérables) plays Mandy Rice-Davies, a friend of Keeler’s who she introduced to Ward. She was not directly involved in the Profumo affair, but helped Keeler navigate the scandal, and also appeared at Ward’s trial. Anthony Welsh (Pure, Black Mirror) plays Aloysius ‘Lucky’ Gordon, a Jamaican-born Jazz singer who had a difficult and abusive relationship with Keeler. Emilia Fox (Silent Witness, Merlin, Delicious) plays Valerie Profumo – the wife of cabinet minister John Profumo, who was a celebrity actress and stared in films including Great Expectations (1943) and Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). Nathan Stewart Jarrett (Misfits, Utopia) plays Johnny Edgecombe, an Antigua-born Jazz promoter. He was the catalyst for Keeler and Profumo’s affair coming out when he fired a gun at Ward’s front door, where Keeler was in hiding. Also among the cast are Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly, Line Of Duty) and Danny Webb (Alien 3, Land Girls, Humans).The real Christine Keeler knew of the project before her death in 2017Writer Amanda Coe reveals: “We made contact with Christine through her legal representative, who was also a very close friend of hers, so she was aware of the project. She’d read an early treatment about the project and its approach. What she communicated was that she didn’t want to be portrayed as a victim, which I believe we’ve honoured.“When I then met up with Desmond Banks, her representative, he brought along a copy of this book about Jeremy Hutchinson’s case histories. Jeremy Hutchinson was the barrister who represented Christine in her libel case. Part of his case histories was his very famous summing up in her libel case, which was what’s called a plea of mitigation, where he tried to get her sentence reduced by giving a context for everything she’d gone through. I think at the time she found it really quite difficult to hear some of the things he was saying but if you read it, it’s actually an unusually compassionate view of Christine that I don’t think exists in any of the other material of the time.”Watch the trailer... The first two episodes of The Trial Of Christine Keeler air on Sunday 29 and Monday 30 December at 9pm on BBC One. MORE Christmas TV... Gavin & Stacey Newcomer Laura Aikman Reveals All About Joining TV's Most Dysfunctional Family Tidy! Gavin & Stacey Special Smashes Christmas TV Ratings Dancing On Ice's H Watkins Hits Back At Viewer 'Offended' By First Same-Sex Skate
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