The fall of the Duchess in a “pure British scandal”

A series dealing with the role of the yellow press in celebrity scandals

Everyone loves private scandals, and high-end scandals are much better, in which the good and the righteous fall out of favor: these are the stories that fascinate people and are interesting to know.

“Pure British Scandal”, a series in three episodes, will be broadcast on the “Prime Video” platform from April 22, in which Claire Foy interprets the role of the Duchess of Argyle, the character of the real aristocratic lady, whose privacy was the subject of a court case in the sixties of the 20th century, which caused a state of media mania and angered the entire nation. When the BBC aired its own version of ‘Pure British Scandal’ last December, it reached nearly 7 million viewers.

The series parallels another mini-series of the same name, “A Too English Scandal”, in another co-production between “Amazon” and “BBC”, and was hugely watched, in which “Hugh Grant” played an upper – class politician in a society that suffered a similar fate.

“These stories are consistent with perceptions of Britain’s national figure,” actress Foy said in a recent interview. Looks like we’re rotten by the way, right? Deep down, all Brits love it: we love gossip, we love the exciting things other people do, and whatever happens behind closed doors, we’re all totally obsessed with it.

Claire Foy (BBC – Amazon Prime)

In the series finale, an aristocratic girlfriend of the Duchess laments the British public’s desire to know what the upper classes are made of. The friend, played by Julia Davis, says: “Mafia people are always watching us from their filthy pits because we’re not like them. But tales of the Duchess’s private life, as the friend puts it, ‘carry us on until we seem quite equal’.

Foy’s character “the Duchess” was never a “scum”, but she wasn’t always aristocratic either.

Margaret Wigham was born in Scotland in 1912. Her father – a self-made textile millionaire – moved his family to New York when she was young, and she lived there until she was 14. Upon his return to Britain, his early photographs appeared on the pages of society newspapers and magazines, his face covered in dazzling Atlantic gazes. After a series of publicized relationships, and a first marriage which ended in divorce, she became Duchess of Argyll in 1951 by marrying the Duke Ian Campbell (played by Paul Bettany in the series), whose family had been part of the Scottish aristocracy. since the fifteenth century.

The Duchess, a charming figure, and one of the most famous of the people, considered the chroniclers of the milieu as her friends, and succeeded in imposing a very impressive media image of her personality. She realized early on that she could make money through what we now call her “personal brand”, accepting money from the tabloids in exchange for appearing in newspaper articles brimming with flattery. (“La Belle! La Riche! La Distinguée!” As an interesting article published in the Daily Mirror in 1961 put it, entitled: “She is the Duchess of Argyll whom the world knows”.)

But when her marriage to the Duke fell apart, she lost control of the media momentum. The couple’s hateful divorce case – in which intimate photos of the Duchess were shown in court – made them the subject of ugly news articles, skeptical rumors and later the ‘Pure British’ series. Scandal”, which landed on an opera performance.

For the rest of her life, the fortune she inherited from her father was spent on a series of unsuccessful lawsuits and shady investments. Her personal relations did not improve: disagreements arose with several of her friends and then with her daughter from her first marriage. The Duchess died in extreme poverty at the age of 80 in a London care home. The first hymn began at his funeral in 1993, saying, “Oh Almighty God, God of mankind, forgive us for our foolish ways of life.”

Sarah Phelps, who wrote the ‘Purely British Scandal’ screenplay, says the Duchess’ case and the accompanying hype mark ‘the end of a certain era’. It represented the birth of another kind of journalism, a way of writing about intimate relationships and scandals in a very erotic way. It paved the way for subsequent media portrayal of figures such as Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse and Meghan Markle – “that meanness and anger directed at women in the public eye,” she said.

When the initial anger subsided, the Duchess faced intense criticism for decades.

Viewers today will be more sympathetic to the Duchess, who now appears to be the victim of ‘self-exposure’, as well as the incongruous sharing of her images in the event of ‘revenge’. However, many viewers won’t judge her and may find it hard to sympathize with the Duchess, who portrays Foy as arrogant, arrogant and arrogant.

“I lied, cheated and committed all sorts of atrocities,” Foy says. Exactly as it was done in return, same.

As a figure in the public eye, she was sympathetic to the Duchess and her treatment by the press. “It was a model, and then they decided it was a completely different model,” Foy said. Then she added: “Journalists dictate the public perception of my work. You are held hostage by the people who write the stories.

Despite frequent glimpses of scandal, the Duchess continued to be active in London’s high society for most of her life, said one of her relatives, Ms Colin Campbell. “She was certainly famous, but she was never shunned,” Campbell, 72, said. People were babbling and saying, “Oh, look who’s there!” It’s Margaret Argyll! “But she rose above that and just ignored it.”

* Service of the New York Times

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