Emilia Fox (left) as Valerie Hobson Profumo, the actress wife of John Profumo, in a scene from "The Trial of Christine Keeler". Picture: Supplied
Emilia Fox (left) as Valerie Hobson Profumo, the actress wife of John Profumo, in a scene from "The Trial of Christine Keeler". Picture: Supplied

Emilia Fox plays the good wife in 'The Trial of Christine Keeler'

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Jan 7, 2020

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Fans of the small screen will recognise Emilia Fox as Dr Nikki Alexander from "Silent Witness". 

That’s not taking into account her film and TV credits amid, as well as before, the popular crime drama series. Of course, it will be refreshing to see her in a role outside of the laboratory. Fox has been cast as Valerie Profumo in the drama, "The Trial of Christine Keeler". 

Before delving more into her character, this series explores a chain of events that took place in the 1960s and which later came to be known as the Profumo Affair. It was one of the most infamous British stories of the 20th century. 

At the centre of the storm is 19-year-old Christine Keeler (played by (Sophie Cookson). She grabbed headlines for refusing to play by the rules in a male-dominated political playground. Of course, sex and scandals were part and parcel of this shonky world. 

Sophie Cookson as Christine Keeler in the series. Picture: BBC First

Keeler’s path crossed with that of John Profumo (Ben Miles), a Conservative MP and Secretary of State for War. Their affair caused quite a stir and that’s where Fox as Profumo’s actress wife, Valerie, is brought into the narrative. 

Providing an overview of the six-part series, Fox revealed: “'The Trial Of Christine Keeler' provides insight into and an intimate portrait of how a very ordinary girl, who was really just trying to survive and look after her mum while having some fun, became involved with a series of people and became the pawn in extraordinary circumstances. 

“Those circumstances led to the resignation of John Profumo as Secretary of State for War and the domino effect of the toppling of the government.” 

On why she agreed to be a part of the project, Fox explained: “It was Amanda Coe’s scripts. They are so good, so character-based and so caring of each of the individuals involved, which is particularly important when you are dealing with people who are real and have surviving families and relatives.” 

And her character was far from one-dimensional, too. 

“Valerie is probably the character that I have the most affinity with of any of the characters I have played. I totally immersed myself within the scripts but also with her life, particularly from the autobiography that her son David wrote, which gave an incredible insight into Valerie and into the relationship that his parents had. 

“I think that although I have had very different experiences in life, I feel like I understand her as an actress, as a mother, as a wife and as a woman.” 

During her research, there were a few things that Fox picked up on the character. 

She explained: “Valerie had a sad smile and it’s something I really noticed from all the photographs of her. She had an extraordinary life albeit a very ordinary one in many ways and one that feels familiar. She gained real independence as an actress but she experienced things that I think are very contemporary now. 

“She had her own #Me Too moments on the casting couch, but managed to make a good career out of acting. 

“She married a producer called Anthony Havelock-Allan, who was unfaithful to her. She had met Profumo during her marriage to Anthony, but when she eventually married John she retired as an actress and dedicated herself to the role of the politician’s wife.” 

She added: “When she first met Profumo he was known as the husband of Valerie Hobson and she was still in the limelight – but how things change by the end. After what happened with Christine she very much became known as Profumo’s wife.” 

One young woman becomes a political pawn while a wife loses her identity supporting her disgraced politician husband. This series is a gripping must-see with a truly talented cast breathing life into an historical story. 

"The Trial of Christine Keeler" airs on BBC First (DStv channel 119) on Thursday, January 23. The time is yet to be confirmed so consult your TV guide closer to the airing date.

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