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Anatomy of a Scandal, the new Netflix political drama which stars Sienna Miller, drops on Netflix on April 15. But as the thriller grips viewers, many will be asking is Anatomy of a Scandal based on a true story?
The drama stars Rupert Friend and Sienna Miller as high-flying couple James Whitehouse MP and Sophie Whitehouse. But their life is turned upside down when a parliamentary colleague accuses James of rape. Created by Emmy winner David E. Kelley and Melissa James Gibson, behind hit shows such as Big Little Lies and House Of Cards, the six-part series is set to be gripping from start to finish.
Anatomy of a Scandal joins popular Netflix shows Bridgerton and A British Horror Story as binge-worthy television that’s keeping us entertained this Spring. But is Anatomy of a Scandal based on a true story? Here’s everything you need to know.
Is Anatomy of a Scandal based on a true story?
Anatomy of a Scandal is not based on a true story. However, it is based on Sarah Vaughan’s book of the same name, which was released in 2018. While it’s not a true story, Sarah drew from experience of covering in the courtroom as a reporter and political correspondent during her time as a Guardian journalist.
Director S.J. Clarkson has spoken about why she was so keen to get the book adapted for screen. She said: “I picked the book up and devoured it in a day and a half.
“I started to ask myself questions, too, about whether the real ‘scandal’ wasn’t just the alleged assault of a young woman by her powerful boss in a House of Commons lift. But really, more broadly, about wealth, privilege, entitlement and men raised to believe they own the world.”
She added: “I knew, immediately, it would be a compelling psychological thriller, a gripping courtroom drama, and a story about a marriage that’s unravelling very publicly. But, at the same time, I saw it would divide people and get them talking about some of the biggest issues of our day. From a director’s point of view, it had the lot.”
Because of its political storyline and mentions of the #MeToo movement, it’s easy to see why many people are asking if Anatomy of a Scandal is based on a true story.
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan Paperback – £9.99 | Amazon
Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case.
Anatomy of a Scandal: cast
- Sienna Miller (American Sniper, Layer Cake, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) plays Sophie Whitehouse.
- Rupert Friend (Pride & Prejudice, Hitman: Agent 47) plays James Whitehouse, Sophie’s husband.
- Naomi Scott (Aladdin, Power Rangers) plays James’ colleague Olivia Lytton.
- Ben Radcliffe (Pandora, Ransom) plays the young version of James.
- Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey, The Gentlemen) plays Barrister Kate Woodcroft.
- Violet Verigo (Tomb Raider, Lola) plays Krystyna.
- Josette Simon (Wonder Woman, Red Lights) plays Angela Regan.
- Jonathan Coy (Conspiracy) plays Judge Aled Luckhurst QC.
- Kudzai Sitima makes her TV debut as Maggie Dobson.
What has Sienna Miller said about Anatomy of a Scandal?
Sienna Miller has said of the series: “What Sophie deals with is public humiliation and betrayal – things that are not unfamiliar to me. But her response to them was so different to my own.”
She added: “I’m realising increasingly that the work I do is really me unpacking my own psychology in bizarre ways. Sophie did a version of life that I could’ve had and really was very against. I’m not trashing it, but it was such a blinkered view of the world that I went on a soul-searching quest to find who I really was, not who I was prescribed to be.”
What have other cast members said about the series?
Naomi Scott, who plays rape victim Olivia, said of the drama: “Even as an actor, walking into a courtroom was terrifying. You have to relay the biggest, most traumatic moment of your life in front of all these people. That blew my mind. It’s incredibly brave to go down that path.
“When people think of sexual assault, they think of the man lurking behind the bush. This isn’t that. Olivia was in love with him. The viewer almost becomes the jury. You’re given the fragmented version, each person’s memory of that event, and you’re left to deal with that yourself.
“It asks questions of us as an audience member: how we bring our own biases to what we’re seeing. As entertaining as the show is – and it is a thriller – I’d like to think that it’ll spark some discussions about consent and privilege.”
Where was Anatomy of a Scandal filmed?
Filming first began in October 2020, and most of Anatomy of a Scandal was filmed in Oxford. New College Lane, Brasenose Lane and Pembroke Square were all used as filming locations and were closed off to the public. The trailer for Anatomy of a Scandal shows two characters running through Oxford’s streets.
Much of the filming in Oxford took place in March 2021. As well as the outdoor locations, parts were also filmed in an Oxford University college.
Some of the series was also filmed at Shepperton studios in Surrey. While other scenes were shot in London and Manchester.
How many episodes of Anatomy of a Scandal?
Anatomy of a Scandal consists of six one-hour episodes. They all land on Netflix at the same time on April 15. Sienna Miller, who plays Sophie, has joked that she wouldn’t have been able to do more than six episodes. She said: “I don’t really have the attention span for a long-format thing.”
And speaking about the female director, S.J. Clarkson, Sienna added how she couldn’t have pictured a man directing such a story.
She said: “For me there’s no way a man could’ve directed this story. Not to say that there weren’t capable male directors who have the sensitivity, but it just felt right that it was a woman because the show really is about women.”
Will there be a season 2 of Anatomy of a Scandal?
As it is a limited series, it doesn’t look like there will be a second season of Anatomy of a Scandal. However, there are reports that the drama is planned as an anthology – meaning there would be more series to follow.
It’s thought that each season will focus on a different large-scale public scandal. It’s not known whether any future series would be based on Sarah Vaughan’s other books. Though it wouldn’t be surprising, as her books are usually psychological thrillers and often contain themes of power and privilege.
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