‘Keeler, Profumo, Ward and Me’


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“The story that defined a decade of great change in Great Britain was my big break in Fleet Street, and I covered and loved every moment of it, from the ridiculous to the tragic …”

Tom Mangold, described in The Times as ‘the doyen of broadcast reporters’, began his career as an investigative journalist on Fleet Street before moving into television as a foreign correspondent, and has since made over 100 documentaries, including many for the BBC’s Panorama. But like many others drawn into the Profumo Affair, Mangold has never quite moved on from the 1963 scandal which still leaves more questions than answers.

Keeler, Profumo, Ward & Me is the third documentary on the subject in which Mangold has played a prominent role within the last decade: BBC Radio Four’s Profumo Confidential, which he presented, and ITV’s Sex, Lies and a Very British Scapegoat both aired in 2013, fifty years after the event. And as BBC1’s six-part drama, The Trial of Christine Keeler, sets the rumour mill in motion again, its final episode was followed immediately by Mangold’s latest account on BBC2. Continue reading

Goodbye (For Now) to ‘Dear Christine’


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Due to unforeseen circumstances, I regret to tell you that ARTHOUSE1 is currently closed and the Dear Christine exhibition – plus a symposium scheduled for this Saturday – has been postponed until further notice. My sincere regards go out to everyone affected, and I hope to write more about this wonderful show in the near future. I currently have several related articles in the pipeline – including a review of the recent BBC documentary about the Profumo Affair, which I hope to post here later this week. (The above photo shows a print from a series by Lewis Morley, 1963, on loan from Camilla Shivarg; commissioned embroidery by Fine Cell Work, ‘Christine in Gold’; and ‘Portrait of a Lady’ by Sarah Shaw. And in the photo below is Fionn Wilson’s ‘Christine Mesmerises’, opposite the iconic Morley print.)

‘Dear Christine’ Symposium in London


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Dear Christine: A Tribute to Christine Keeler, on display until February 29 at London’s ARTHOUSE1 (open from 3-7 pm on Thursdays to Sundays) is accompanied by a symposium featuring artists and commentators including historian Carol Dyhouse and Amanda Coe, writer/producer of The Trial of Christine Keeler, on Saturday, February 22. Admission is free but reserved to 40 places so book now via Eventbrite. (The painting shown above is ‘God Save Christine’ by Sal Jones.)

UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event has now been cancelled – more info here.

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Reframing the Keeler Affair


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My interview with Fionn Wilson – artist and curator of Dear Christine: A Tribute to Christine Keeler, an exhibition featuring works by twenty women artists now on display at London’s Arthouse1 until February 29th – is published today on the excellent Culture Matters website. (The painting shown above, by Fionn herself, is Christine and the Poisoned Apple – conjuring both the biblical Eve, and Snow White.)

UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this exhibition is postponed until further notice – more info here. (18/02/2020)

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‘Dear Christine’ Steps Out in London


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Dear Christine: A Tribute to Christine Keeler has just begun the final leg of its tour at Arthouse1 in Bermondsey, London. The opening night was attended by, among others, Christine’s son Seymour Platt, and her close friend, Desmond Banks; Geoffrey Robertson QC; and the writer Julie Burchill. (You can view Julie and Seymour’s speeches here.)

UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this exhibition has been postponed until further notice – more info here. (18/02/2020)

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Arthur Miller: The Writer and the Man


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Rebecca Miller, daughter of American playwright Arthur Miller and his third wife, Austrian-born photographer Inge Morath, is a novelist and filmmaker whose works include The Ballad of Jack and Rose and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. She has directed a stage revival of her father’s play, After the Fall, and her handful of acting credits include a minor role in a television adaptation of An American Clock. She also met her future husband, actor Daniel Day-Lewis, on the set of another Miller classic, The Crucible (1996.) Continue reading

My Hopes and Fears for 2020


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As a new decade beckons, I’m deeply worried about the way our world seems to be heading. As W.H. Auden wrote on ‘September 1, 1939‘ (a poem deemed so prescient he tried to bury it …) Continue reading

Merry Christmas To All My Readers


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Just a little note from me to wish you all a merry Christmas. If you thought you’d seen off my lists for another year, make room for one more as in a few days, I’ll be looking back at the end of this decade in music, books and film. But first, let’s enjoy this nostalgic carol from Lana Del Rey and friends.

As some of you may know, The Trial of Christine Keeler is coming to BBC1. First announced here, the six-part drama starts at 9 pm this Sunday, December 29th. With the exhibition Dear Christine heading to London in February, and Scandal set for reissue by the BFI, the women of the Profumo Affair may finally get their due in 2020.


Marilyn’s ‘Mirror’ Review Goes to Print


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My review of Amanda Konkle’s excellent book, Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe, is featured in the latest issue (#38) of UK fanzine Mad About Marilyn, alongside articles about Marilyn’s arduous promotional tour for the final Marx Brothers movie, Love Happy (1949); ‘A New Marilyn Comes Back’, first published by Movie Spotlight in 1956; and a profile of photographer Bruno Bernard, aka ‘Bernard of Hollywood’.

The delightful cover photo was taken at Richard Avedon‘s New York studio in July 1958, shortly before Marilyn flew to Los Angeles to shoot Some Like It Hot. If you’d like to subscribe to Mad About Marilyn, please email Emma: emmadowning@blueyonder.co.uk

2019: A Year in Books


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First published in 2015 as Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes and now available in English, Zuleikha tells the story of a Tatar woman whose brutish husband and vindictive mother-in-law treat her as a slave. This all changes around 1930 when along with other peasants and Leningrad intellectuals – a motley crew of ‘enemies of the state’ – Zuleikha is transported to a gulag in Siberia. Beside the age-old themes of tyranny and suffering, Zuleikha offers a surprisingly hopeful vision of how ordinary people can keep their wits and capacity for love, even in the direst circumstances. Continue reading