a very british scandal
starring: claire foy, paul bettany, julia davis, and sophia myles
REVIEWER: lyall carter
The story of events surrounding the notorious divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll during the 1960s.
Scandals seem all the streaming service rage at the moment. From Pam & Tommy to Anatomy of a Scandal and every other show in between. But what’s not to love? These tales are drenched in binge worthy drama with revelation after juicy revelation. While not relying on a roulette of salacious revelations to keep the audience engaged and entertained, A Very British Scandal is a measured, considered series with award worthy performances from Foy and Bettany.
Famed for her charisma, beauty, and style, Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, dominated the front pages as a divorce featuring accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drug-taking, secret recording, bribery, and an explicit Polaroid picture all played out in the white-hot glare of the 1960s media.
You can’t help shake the feeling that A Very British Scandal is a peak behind the curtain of privilege. While there are some scandalous revelations throughout they are never played for shock value but as a way of understanding Margaret and Ian, the protagonists of the piece, as individuals and their complex relationship. It’s measured and considered and all the more engrossing for it.
In it’s measured approach A Very British Scandal doesn't fall down on any particular ‘side’ but it also doesn’t shirk away from vividly portraying the impossible standard that Margaret was held to by society and the press compared to Ian.
We haven’t really seen Claire Foy like this before. Sure, we’ve seen her in period dramas but never as boundary pushing and at times manipulative and conniving. She’s utterly superb. Paul Bettany gives a performance that is equal to Foy’s; filled with fury and rage with moments of pure vulnerability.
While not relying on a roulette of salacious revelations to keep the audience engaged and entertained, A Very British Scandal is a measured, considered series with award worthy performances from Foy and Bettany.