The British Anthology series, Anatomy of a Scandal was released on Netflix on April 15, 2022, and fans have been wondering if the six-episodes political drama series is based on a true story or not. Here is the answer to all your questions.
About Anatomy of a Scandal
The six-part miniseries Anatomy of a Scandal is not based on a true story. The British courtroom drama series draws its origin from Sarah Vaughan’s book “Anatomy of a Scandal” which was published in 2018. But hey, do read the whole article for the full truth.
The series draws its origin from Sarah’s experience of covering the courtroom as a reported and political correspondent during her days as a journalist at The Guardian. Anatomy of a Scandal is developed and written by Melissa James Gibson and David E. Kelly.
David E. Kellys is a renowned script-writer who is known as the creator of the series like Goliath, Big Little Lies, Chicago Hope and Boston Legal. Melissa James Gibson has co-written the series.
The story revolves around British Parliamentary Minister James Whitehouse (Rupert Freind) and his wife Sophie (Sienna Miller). The two had a perfect life together until James indulges in an affair outside marriage and is accused of sexual assault.
Sophie, who is a dedicated wife, stands by the minister’s side during the courtroom trial under the belief that he is innocent. However, barrister Kate Woodcroft (Michelle Dockerty) is determined to prove him guilty.
The couple continues to remain surrounded by public consequences of the said scandal and Sophie starts to question her husband’s story. The official synopsis of the series read, “Barrister Kate Woodcroft has a trajectory of her own, and her prosecution threatens to tear into Westminster, the Whitehouse marriage, and her own personal esteem.”
Here is what the cast looks like:
- Sienna Miller as Sophie Whitehouse, James’ wife
- Michelle Dockery as Kate Woodcroft, , prosecution counsel tasked with James’ case
- Rupert Friend as James Whitehouse, , former government minister and close aide to the Prime Minister
- Naomi Scott is Olivia Lytton, a parliamentary researcher on James’ staff, who has an affair with him. She is the one who accuses him of rape.
- Josette Simon as Angela Regan, , James’ defence counsel
Connection with Matt Hancock
Since the realise of Anatomy of the Scandal, many fans are wondering if the series is based on real-life events. Well, the root cause of these doubts was last year’s political scandal related to Tory MP Matt Hancock.
Last year, Matt Hancock was caught in the act with his aide on a CCTV. Matt and his aide both were married with children and the political scandal took place in his office. The two were seen kissing each other passionately.
The incident soon got consumed the nation and received extreme criticism. Now, as the teaser of this new series dropped, fans started connecting the present miniseries with the previous scandal. But, this is a mere coincidence and the series has nothing to do with Hancock’s political scandal.
Sarah Vaughan’s Anatomy of a Scandal
Sarah Hall who goes by the pseudonym Sarah Vaughan is an acclaimed British writer and Journalist. She worked as a senior reporter, and health and political correspondent for The Guardian until 2008. As a novelist, Sarah is known for writing physiological thrillers.
Anatomy of a Scandal is Sarah’s third novel, which has been adapted into Netflix’s current series. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Vaughan explained the inspiration behind her novel. She stated that “Anatomy of a Scandal” is inspired by two events:
1. November 2004, Boris Johnson’s scandal
Vaughan was called in the day after Boris Johnson was fired from the Conservative frontbench for lying about having an affair. She even narrated how casually he lied to her during her coverage. Sarah stated:
“There was a lot of flummery and flannel; lots of chuntering and ‘all chaps together’-ness about it. He confirmed the story was true and didn’t seem to express any remorse. It was the first time I was aware of a public figure admitting to lying and not seeming to be bothered by it.”
2. October 2014, Ched Evans’ release
The second incident that inspired her novel was when the footballer Ched Evans completed his prison sentence for rape. He was released in October 2015. Journalist Allision Pearson wrote a column that insinuated that the victim in question “wasn’t expecting to have a game of Scrabble” and knew about what she was getting into when she entered his hotel room. Vaughan was shocked about how women can judge each other.
Sarah revealed that it was these two incidents that inspired the creation of a fiction novel Anatomy of a Scandal, a political thriller about a junior government minister accused of rape.
She said, “James, in Anatomy, is not [sympathetic]. … Working in the lobby, and also reporting on trials, has meant I’ve seen characters with big egos continue to assert their power, and I’ve questioned why they would put themselves in this position when they have so far to fall.”
Director S.J. Clarkson also released a press statement about the origin of this series in an interview with The Guardian. She stated that “I picked the book up and devoured it in a day and a half.
She added, “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.”
The confusion among viewers is valid. I would like to call it a visual representation of scandalous events by powerful men who think they can get away with anything. The series does reflect true instances of how they misuse privilege, entitlement and wealth. Therefore, it is not apt to call it fiction if not a true story. What do you think?