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A Very British Scandal Review 2022 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
In that car is Margaret Campbell (Claire Foy), the Duchess of Argyll. Photographers’ flash bulbs are going off. Others are calling her a slut. One person spits at the window. It’s 1963, and she’s about to go into a public divorce proceeding. The duke and her soon-to-be-ex, Ian Campbell (Paul Bettany), gives her one last chance to stay with him or be confronted by “the evidence.” She refuses.
Sixteen years earlier, the two of them meet on a train to Scotland. Both are married, and Campbell’s reputation precedes him, but there’s an undeniable chemistry between them. He takes her out to Invernay Castle, which he’ll inherit when the current Duke of Argyll, a daffy distant cousin, finally kicks the bucket. Campbell has grand plans, including raising a sunken ship with a grand treasure that’s just off the shore.
Margaret divorces her current husband, and her Maureen Guinness (Julia Davis) invites her to what is basically a really classy sex party. She sleeps with various men, but is thinking about Ian. Ian is already tiring of his second marriage, to Louise (Sophia Myles), whom he calls “Oui Oui.” When Ian and Margaret finally sleep together, he asks her to marry him, right as he’s about to inherit Argyll. He publicly parades around with Margaret in order to force Oui Oui’s hand; she grants Ian the divorce he wants, but writes a bitter letter to Margaret.
But after they get married, Margaret finds out that Ian has a dark side. He locks himself in his study or goes out for hours on end. He makes fun of her stutter. There are outstanding bills, including one for the ship raising, that he seems to dismiss. He plans on passing the estate to his oldest son, leaving Margaret without a home when he passes. She starts to wonder just what she got into.
A Very British Scandal was written by Sarah Phelps, and the first episode sets up a couple of threads that will pay off in the next two episodes, when the Campbells’ marriage falls apart and the bitter divorce proceedings. The series is based on the true story of the Campbells’ divorce, which rocked British society in the early 1960s, and the first episode quickly sets up the whys and hows of the divorce.
It doesn’t linger too long on their relationship, which is already scandalous, given the fact that he asked her to marry him while he was still married, parading Margaret out in public while Louise was back home fuming. One theme the first episode touches is the sexual freedom Margaret had, especially after her divorce. Given it’s the late 1940s at the time, Margaret’s embrace of her love of sex is an early example of how women became more liberated in the latter half of the 20th century. It also indicates that she’s not going to take any crap from Ian during their divorce.
But first, there’s the matter of their marriage, and the second half of the episode does a smart job of showing just how quickly things turn sour for Margaret. From the moment he insists on carrying her over the threshold even though she doesn’t want him to do that, to the idea that he’s going to take Invernay away from her when he passes, despite the time she has taken to renovate the castle, to the money, drugs, drinking and abuse, it pretty much is a mess from day one. Phelps communicates this turn — which we’ve seen happen in real-life marriages — quite effectively.
Bettany is so adept at playing a charmer who turns out to be a complete git, and Foy continues her run of playing beautiful women who have a reserve of strength that comes out when they get tested. Of course, the Scottish countryside settings are spectacular and the supporting cast does a fine job, giving viewers another season of high-class scandal that’s the equal of the show’s first season four years ago.