BBC One’s newest true-life drama The Trial Of Christine Keeler is set to land on screens tonight.
The 60s-set serial recounts the events of the notorious Profumo Affair, which brought down a prime minister and later a government, and scandalised Britain at the time.
But just when is it on – and what exactly was the Profumo Affair?
Here’s what you need to know about the new series and the story behind it…
What time is The Trial Of Christine Keeler on BBC One tonight?
The Trial Of Christine Keeler kicks off on BBC One on Sunday night at 9pm and is an hour long.
You won’t have to wait too long for the next episode, as it’s on BBC One on Monday night at 9pm.
There are six instalments in total, with the remaining four screening for the next four Sundays at the same time.
If you miss any, you can catch up with the series on the BBC iPlayer.
What’s the story of the Profumo Affair as featured in the series?
The Profumo Affair occurred in 1960s Britain at the height of the Cold War – and ultimately contributed to the fall of then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and his government.
It centred around Christine Keeler, who was a model and topless showgirl at a cabaret club in Soho – where her friend Mandy Rice-Davies also worked at the time – when she met society osteopath Stephen Ward.
Ward took her under his wing, moving her into his flat in Wimpole Mews in London (although their relationship was purely platonic) and taking her to parties in London where she met many powerful and high-profile people.
Among those she met was John Profumo – who at the time was the Secretary of State for war, and who was tipped to take his political career even further and possibly even become the next Prime Minister.
Although he was married at the time to actress Valerie Hobson, he and Keeler had an affair – while she had a brief fling with Soviet naval atache Captain Yevgeny Ivanov.
What happened next?
Details of the affair came to light after Keeler had relationships with jazz singer Aloysius ‘Lucky’ Gordon and jazz promoter Johnny Edgecombe, who proved to be fierce rivals for her affections, culminating in a fight between the pair at London’s Flamingo Club in 1962.
That escalated further when Keeler broke up with Edgecombe, and he responded by going to Stephen Ward’s flat where she was staying and firing five shots into the front door.
The incident and Edgecombe’s trial brought Keeler into the public eye and she began to talk indiscreetly about her flings with Profumo and Ivanov and her friendship with Ward following the incident.
As rumours about the affair spread, John Profumo initially told Parliament there had been ‘no impropriety whatsoever’ in his relationship with Keeler, but the truth eventually came out and he resigned 10 weeks later, while the public were left questioning whether Keeler could have caused a security breach by passing secret information between Profumo and Ivanov.
The scandal also led to the downfall of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who remained in office until October of that year, to be replaced by Sir Alec Douglas-Home – before the Conservatives were defeated by Labour in the following year’s General Election.
Stephen Ward was put on trial for living off the earnings of prostitution and procuring a girl under 21 years old in relation to Keeler and her friend Mandy Rice-Davies.
He took an overdose on 30 July 1963, the day before the verdict was due in his trial, and died on 3 August.
Meanwhile Christine Keeler was convicted on charges of perjury after she accused Gordon of assault and later withdrew her accusation, being sentenced to nine months in prison.
John Profumo went on to devote his life to charity work, and died in 2006 aged 91.
Mandy Rice-Davies, who went on to become a successful businesswoman, died in 2014 aged 70, while Christine Keeler married twice and had two sons and a granddaughter.
Who is in the cast of The Trial Of Christine Keeler?
Here’s who you’ll be seeing in the series:
- Sophie Cookson as Christine Keeler
- Ben Miles as John Profumo
- Emilia Fox as Valerie Profumo
- James Norton as Stephen Ward
- Ellie Bamber as Mandy Rice-Davies
- Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Johnny Edgecombe
- Anthony Welsh as Lucky Gordon
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