James Norton and Sophie Cookson have lifted the lid on their roles in BBC drama The Trial of Christine Keeler – saying that it turns up the volume on Keeler’s role in the Profumo scandal in light off the #metoo movement.
Kingsman: The Secret Service star Cookson plays Keeler, the 19-year old woman who was involved in a relationship with John Profumo, while Norton stars as Stephen Ward, the society osteopath who drew her into the in-crowd.
Norton told Deadline, “It’s imperative that we go back and look at these moments in history in light of the recalibration with the Times Up and Me Too movements. It’s also far more interesting – what a better way to see the Profumo scandal but through the eyes of the main catalyst.”
Cookson added that Keeler has often been portrayed as a “witchy, evil” woman but in fact she was a troubled teenager. “I had no idea she was 19, she looks like a 35-year-old woman who was so put together. She’s finally been given an opportunity to speak with her own voice. She is so complicated. She’s this wonderfully flawed heroine, she’s feisty and has opinion and doesn’t want to be defined by male society.”
Creator Amanda Coe, who previously adapted Apple Tree Yard for the BBC, said that she wanted to tell the story through the eyes of Keeler, unlike previous adaptation including John Hurt’s Scandal.
“The very notable omission in tellings of the story was Christine and what it would feel like to be a 19-year-old girl thrust into the spotlight into a unique way and becomes part of this narrative, that is a layer cake slice of society at the time,” she said. “It felt like history came up to meet us in terms of everything that’s happening with #metoo. It feels very current – things haven’t changed much.”
Miles plays Profumo, the Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government, who lied to the House of Commons about his affair and the incident became a global scandal after it emerged that Keeler may have simultaneously been involved with a Soviet naval attaché.
Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals) plays Welsh model and Keeler friend Mandy Rice-Davies and Emilia Fox (Silent Witness) stars as Valerie Profumo. Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Angels in America) plays Johnny Edgecombe, a jazz promoter, whose involvement with Keeler inadvertently alerted authorities to the Profumo Affair, and Anthony Welsh (Black Mirror) plays jazz singer Aloysius “Lucky” Gordon.
It is produced by Fleming producer Ecosse Films and Kate Triggs’ Great Meadow Productions. Endeavor Content is co-repping in the U.S. and the team are confident of a North American deal.
The drama is directed by Andrea Harkin, exec produced by Coe, Ecosse Films’ Douglas Rae and Kate Triggs and Lucy Richer for the BBC. Rebecca Ferguson produces.