Back in 2018, Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw starred in A Very English Scandal, a three-part dark comedy about an MP who tries and fails to have a former (male) lover killed, and from there events spiral out of control. It’s a SPECTACULAR mini-series, if you haven’t seen it, you must. Grant and Whishaw are SO good (both were nominated for Emmys, Whishaw won). Now, there is a sequel of sorts about the infamously nasty 1960-something divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. If you are into aristocratic gossip, you ought to recognize this as one of the great high society scandals of the mid-20th century, at least until actual royals started getting divorces in the 1970s. The new series, which makes this an anthology, is called A Very British Scandal. Why it’s not A Very Scottish Scandal, I don’t know.
Paul Bettany stars as Captain Ian Cambell, 11th Duke of Argyll, and Claire Foy stars as his third wife, Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. The great scandal here is how public their divorce was, which you see in the trailer. Not seen in the trailer, the infamous Polaroid photo of the duchess in flagrante delicto with another man that is referenced, which was used to shame Duchess Margaret during the divorce hearings. A Very English Scandal has the distinction of being a very nutty story featuring a cast of unlikeable no-heroes, but British Scandal could fall into the recent trend of reassessing 20th century women from a 21st century perspective. There is no question that sexism and misogyny played a HUGE role in the Argyll divorce. Like did anyone care that the duke’s wives described him as physically and emotionally abusive? No. But they sure cared about the duchess’s sexy photo. Maybe this will finally be justice for Duchess Margaret, who did not deserve the public shaming she got.