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'A Very British Scandal' — everything we know about the drama

A Very British Scandal — Paul Bettany and Claire Foy as the Duke and Duchess of Argyll
Paul Bettany and Claire Foy as the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. (Image credit: BBC)

A Very British Scandal is a new series for BBC1 and Amazon Studios, and will focus on the life of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, following her divorce from the Duke. This very public breakup is regarded as one of the most notorious, extraordinary, and brutal legal cases of the 20th century.

Commenting on the idea behind the series, screenwriter Sarah Phelps says: “Writing the story of Margaret’s life and the events leading up to and including her divorce from the Duke has been a passion project of mine since 1993 when I first heard her name and started learning about her.

“I felt very strongly that she’d been punished for being a woman, for being visible, for refusing to back down, be a good girl and go quietly. This drama is my tribute to her.”

Here's everything we know about the series so far...

'A Very British Scandal' release date

We don't have an exact release date for the three-part series yet, but we do know it will air later this year. It will be available on BBC1 and BBC iPlayer in the UK, and on Prime Video in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand at a later date. 

What is the plot of 'A Very British Scandal'?

A Very British Scandal explores the high profile divorce between the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, which resulted in the latter being ridiculed for the breakdown of her marriage by the press and those around her. The case included accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drug-taking, secret recording, bribery and an explicit polaroid picture, all of which threatened to tarnish the Duchess' reputation.

The series will explore the social and political climate of post-war Britain, looking at attitudes towards women, and asks whether institutional misogyny was widespread at the time. 

As her contemporaries, the press, and the judiciary sought to vilify her, Margaret kept her head held high with bravery and resilience, refusing to go quietly as she was betrayed by her friends and publicly shamed by a society that revelled in her fall from grace.

Who's in the cast?

Claire Foy (The Crown) and Paul Bettany (Iron Man) lead the cast of A Very British Scandal as the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. 

Speaking about taking on the role of the Duchess, Claire Foy says: "I’m so excited to work with Anne, Sarah and Paul on this extraordinary project, and to explore through this story, how often shame, judgement and controversy surrounds a woman's sexuality."

Paul Bettany adds: "I’m delighted to be working with the remarkable Claire Foy to tell the fascinating and scandalous story of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll and their very complicated lives. I’m also extremely happy to get the chance to once again be working with the wonderful teams at the BBC and Amazon Studios."

Claire Foy as the Duchess

Claire Foy as the Duchess of Argyll.  (Image credit: BBC)

Other confirmed cast includes  Amanda Drew (The Trial Of Christine Keeler), Richard McCabe (Poldark), Phoebe Nicholls (The Elephant Man), Camilla Rutherford (Phantom Thread), Timothy Renouf (Afterlife Of The Party), Sophia Myles (A Discovery Of Witches), Sophie Ward (The Moonstone), Tim Steed (The Death Of Stalin), and Katherine Manners (War & Peace).

Further casting is Richard Goulding (The Crown), Jonathan Aris (Sherlock), Oliver Chris (Trying),Nicholas Rowe (Roadkill), and Miles Jupp (The Durrells).

Is there a trailer?

Not yet, but watch this space!

Lucy Buglass

Lucy is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes and the latest TV news. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2016 with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.


She is also a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema, setting up her own website Lucy Goes to Hollywood in 2017 to review films in her spare time. Her favourite genres are horror, thriller and anything crime related. When she's not writing about film and TV, you'll likely find her playing video games, reading, and trying her hand at podcasting.