Viewers brand finale of Very British Scandal 'boring'

Viewers brand finale of Very British Scandal ‘boring’ with ‘predictable’ ending but praise Claire Foy and Paul Bettany’s acting after dream sequence sees Duchess attacking her husband with an AXE

  • Viewers have branded the BBC One drama A Very British Scandal ‘boring’  
  • Finale s aw the Duchess of Argyll played by Claire Foy admit to her adultery in a dramatic ending scene – which was branded ‘predictable’ by viewers online
  • Three-part drama tells the true story of Margaret, The Duchess of Argyll, who died in 1993 aged 80 

Viewers have branded the BBC drama A Very British Scandal ‘boring’ and ‘lacklustre’ while praising the acting of Claire Foy and Paul Bettany for portraying ‘disgustingly unlikable characters. 

In tonight’s finale of the racy British drama viewers saw the Duchess of Argyll played by  Claire Foy admit to her adultery in a dramatic ending scene – which was branded ‘predictable’ by viewers. 

The three-part drama tells the true story of  Margaret, The Duchess of Argyll, who died in 1993 aged 80.

She was branded a nymphomaniac by her husband the 11th Duke of Argyll (played by Paul Bettany) in their toxic 1963 divorce hearing, which became the longest and most costly of the 20th century. 


In the scene, the Duchess is given a day from dawn to dusk to collect her belongings from Inveraray Castle – the family home she’s been banned from staying in during the divorce hearing. She walks in at the crack of dawn to see her husband greet her as ‘Satan’ before grabbing an axe and branding him ‘a f*****”.

The Duke then cowers in a cupboard while his wife attacks him screaming she isn’t unhinged in a Shining-esque scene.

 He claimed she had taken on an amazing 88 lovers, including cabinet ministers, Hollywood stars and royals, during their marriage.

But despite the dramatic real life story, the BBC failed to capture the magic and humour of a ‘Very English Scandal’ and left many viewers bored.

One wrote: ‘This is up there with the most boring things I’ve watched, all the characters are unlikable’.

However, despite many praised the acting of Paul Bettany and Clare Foy – noting one scene where the Duchess fantasises about acting her husband with an axe as ‘iconic’.

In the scene, the Duchess is given a day from dawn to dusk to collect her belongings from Inveraray Castle – the family home she’s been banned from staying in during the divorce hearing.

She walks in at the crack of dawn to see her husband greet her as ‘Satan’ before grabbing an axe and branding him ‘a f*****”.

The Duke then cowers in a cupboard while his wife attacks him screaming she isn’t unhinged in a Shining-esque scene.

One wrote: ‘Claire Foy going full ‘Shining’ in ‘A Very British Scandal’ is incredible, peak British telly. Nothing says Christmas like someone wielding an axe and screaming expletives.’

Another added: ‘All the awards to Claire Foy and Paul Bettany for playing unlikable character so well.’

The ending saw the Duchess admit to adultery, after a picture of her performing oral sex on a man was circulated.

Last night’s episode saw the Duchess entering her bathroom where a naked man is stood waiting.  

In the graphic scene, she performed a sexual act on a man in her Mayfair apartment while polaroid photographs are taken.

In tonight’s finale of the racy British drama viewers saw the Duchess of Argyll played by Claire Foy admit to her adultery in a dramatic ending scene – which was branded ‘predictable’ by viewers.

Viewers praised Paul and Claire’s acting but some branded the storylines boring and characters unlikable

After first claiming the man – who’s face cannot be seen – was her husband, she later admitted in court it wasn’t him, and that it was her in the picture.

However despite the steaminess of the moment, many of those watching  slammed the TV drama as ‘depressing’, with one writing: ‘Trying to watch #AVeryBritishScandal but god, it’s a bit miserable innit? I mean, what’s it really about?’ 

Meanwhile viewing figures overnight showed the steamy show had failed to bring in viewers, with a larger audience tuning in to watch ITV’s Family Fortunes Christmas Special – as well as the children’s film Paddington 2. 

The first three episodes aired on BBC1 the past three nights, though the full series has been available on iPlayer since Sunday night. 

The three-part series, which started on Boxing Day, tells the real-life story of Margaret, who in the early 1960s was at the centre of scandal when her high-profile divorce case exposed her adventurous sex life. 

Racy: Claire was seen stripping off in various scenes from the episode, donning black lingerie for one scene 

Viewers of A Very British Scandal have bemoaned the ‘depressing’ drama and ‘beastly’ characters as the series depicted the infamous ‘headless man’ polaroid 

She dominated the front pages as her divorce from the Duke of Argyll (portrayed by Paul Bettany) played out – featuring accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drugtaking, secret recording, bribery and the pictures. 

The first episode of A Very British Scandal took viewers by surprise as they watched Foy perform three sex scenes in the first 30 minutes of the first episode  – with two different men. 

It showed Margaret seducing a man at a dinner party before romping with her on-screen husband at his Scottish stately home and in a cleaning cupboard at her parents’ property. 

It comes just days after Foy spoke out about how she hates doing sex scenes, saying they make her feel ‘exploited’ and that they are the ‘grimmest thing you can do’.  

The first episode took place just 16 minutes into the first episode, between Margaret and an unnamed stranger she meets at a fun-filled dinner party.

Elsewhere in the episode, Paul Bettany’s Duke of Argyll flew into a rage after Margaret refused to give him more money 

The moment the Duchess performed a sexual act on a man in her Mayfair apartment has been recreated in near-graphic detail in TV’s racy drama about her life

Audiences never finds out the identity of this man, but in later scenes with a female friend, it is suggested that Margaret would regularly sleep with men she met the same evening.

The second sex scene took place 26 minutes into the episode. It shows Margaret arriving at Inveraray Castle in Scotland, the home of Ian Campbell, the Duke of Argyll.

At the time of their first meeting, the Duke was still married to Louise Timpson.

But that didn’t stop the Duke and his guest from sleeping together. Moments after they had sex, he asked Margaret for her hand in marriage.

The third comes very shortly after, at 29 minutes, just before Margaret takes Ian to meet her father for his approval of their marriage.

They make a quick but racy stop-off in a cleaning cupboard, before going up to see Margaret’s parents.

The photo: In the following scene, the actress opened a letter containing the explicit images (pictured) 

16 MINUTES IN: The first episode of A Very British Scandal took viewers by surprise as they watched Claire enjoy three sex scenes in the first 30 minutes of the first episode – with two different men

24 MINUTES IN: The second sex scene took place 26 minutes into the episode. It shows Margaret arriving at Inveraray Castle in Scotland, the home of Ian Campbell, the Duke of Argyll

29 MINUTES: The third sex scene comes in at 29 minutes, shortly after the second, where the pair dash off into a cleaning cupboard before they meet Margaret’s father for his approval of marriage

Viewers could have expected a fair few sex scenes in the series, after Foy said ahead of its launch that she finds filming them unpleasant, and that they make her feel ‘exposed’ and ‘exploited’.

Foy told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: ‘It’s a really hard line because basically you do feel exploited when you are a woman and you are having to perform fake sex on screen. You can’t help but feel exploited.

‘It’s grim – it’s the grimmest thing you can do. You feel exposed. Everyone can make you try to not feel that way but it’s unfortunately the reality.’

Twitter users commented on how awkward it was to watch the three sex scenes in the presence of older family members.

One said: ‘Watching A Very British Scandal in front of my parents was not the best idea. Even at 37 seeing sex scenes on TV with them in the room is all kinds of awkward. Thanks @PhelpsieSarah!’

As Claire Foy is set to play Margaret, Duchess of Argyll in a new Boxing Day drama, those who knew the real aristocrat have revealed to society bible Tatler how she was ‘strikingly beautiful’ and had a ‘ghoulish quality like Morticia Adams’ 


The programme comes from the team behind the BBC’s A Very English Scandal, which starred Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw as politician Jeremy Thorpe and his lover, Norman Scott – left: the Duchess of Argyll, right: Claire Foy as the Duchess

Louise Teboul similarly said: ‘Watching A Very British Scandal with my mother-in-law and OH [other half] – didn’t realise there was going to be so much sex in it – awkward.’

Another added: ‘I forgot how awkward it was watching sex scenes with a parent till A Very British Scandal tonight.’

Michael Wave joked: ‘Sending thoughts and prayers to everyone else who is now locked into watching a very British scandal with their families, not realising how much sex there would be in it.’

Born in 1912, the only child of a self-made Scottish millionaire, Margaret was described by her biographer Lyndsy Spence as ‘a daddy’s girl with an absent father, living with a jealous mother who sought to remind Margaret of her every shortcoming’.

So who was the headless man? 

The ‘Headless Man’ in the salacious pictures of the duchess disclosed in the divorce case has never been definitively identified. Society ached to know his identity, and the duke was even required to pose naked to prove the torso wasn’t his.

Margaret (pictured) carried the secret of the ‘headless man’ identity to her grave

The suspects included Hollywood actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr and German diplomat Sigismund von Braun, but chief among them was Duncan Sandys, the Minister of Defence and Winston Churchill’s son-in-law. 

A Channel 4 documentary in 2000 claimed that the ‘Headless Man’ was in fact two different men – Sandys and Fairbanks Jr – but it seems this may be one secret Margaret carried with her to her grave.

As such, Margaret developed a stammer for which she was treated unsuccessfully by Lionel Logue, King George VI’s speech therapist.

She was just 15 when the future movie star David Niven, two years her senior, got her pregnant while holidaying on the Isle of Wight, after which her father sent her to a London nursing home for a secret termination.

As a young woman, her beauty was renowned in society and she was courted by princes and millionaires, welcoming playwright Noel Coward, actor Cary Grant and oil tycoon J Paul Getty, among others, to her Mayfair home. She went on to have four failed engagements before a failed marriage to Charles Sweeny, an Irish-American stockbroker.

Their wedding day in 1933 was a glamorous affair, stopping traffic for three hours as 2,000 guests attended the Brompton Oratory in west London while another 2,000 onlookers gathered to see the stunning 28ft train to her Norman Hartnell wedding gown. 

Despite having a daughter, Frances, and a son, Brian, together, the couple’s relationship broke down after 14 years, with Margaret claiming all Charlie wanted in a spouse was a ‘pretty brainless doll’ and they divorced in 1947.  

In 1951 she wed Ian Douglas Campbell, the 11th Duke of Argyll, after meeting him on a train at Paris’s Gare du Nord station in 1949. He’d pursued her relentlessly, knowing she was rich while his own estate was worth nothing. 

She took pity on him and convinced her father to give him £100,000 to restore his family seat in Scotland, Inveraray Castle. The duke then signed a Deed of Gift offering various items as security for the money, and vowed to marry her when his own divorce had come through.

After tying the knot the couple lived in luxury, skiing in St Moritz, sailing in the Bahamas and holidaying in St Tropez. Fashion designers and socialites clamoured around the duchess.

But the duke soon showed his true colours, with rumours of gambling and drug and alcohol addiction, as well as a vile temper.  

The couple had agreed to have an open marriage and live separately. ‘How many men do you have?,’ Bettany asks. ‘How many women do you have?,’ Foy replies.

But angry that the duchess was no longer funding his excessive lifestyle, the duke hired private detectives to follow his wife. He filed for divorce. 

Central to the case was a set of blurry Polaroid snaps taken via the bathroom mirror of the duchess’s Mayfair apartment of her wearing nothing but her signature triple string of pearls. In some, she was entertaining an unidentified lover whose head had been cropped out of the picture and who came to be known as the ‘Headless Man’.

The pictures had been discovered by her husband, who allegedly hired a locksmith to gain access to his wife’s private papers. 

Many viewers noted the acting in a dream sequence which saw The Duchess attack the Duke with an axe

And yet the technicalities of the prehistoric legal system at that time (and the fact that many of her ‘lovers’ were gay) prevented the duchess from giving her side of the story without risking imprisonment.

A Very British Scandal focuses especially on the attitudes towards women at the time, as Margaret was vilified throughout the divorce battle for refusing to go quietly, despite being betrayed by friends and publicly shamed by society.   

It took four years after he filed for divorce for a verdict to be reached, which granted it to the duke on the grounds of Margaret’s adultery. 

She was ordered to pay most of the £50,000 legal bill. Meanwhile nothing was said about his own affairs or his subsequent remarriage to Mathilda Mortimer, a rich American, just six weeks later.

After the case Margaret fell out with her daughter Frances, who had not wanted her to oppose the divorce, and thanks to her extravagant lifestyle and some bad investments her fortune diminished. She lost her home and, although eventually reconciled with Frances, her children put her in a nursing home in London, where she died penniless in 1993.

The original photograph showed Margaret – wearing nothing but a string of pearls – involved in a sexual act with a ‘headless’ man in her home.

The photo had been cropped at the man’s neck and for years his identity was unknown.

However, a documentary in 2000 identified him as Cabinet minister and Winston Churchill’s son-in-law Duncan Sandys. 

Source: Read Full Article