The Trial of Christine Keeler launches on BBC One tonight and with it comes a charming performance from Ellie Bamber as real-life rebel Mandy Rice-Davies, best friend of the titular model. Mandy subsequently found herself at the centre of the world’s biggest scandal as her best friend had sexual relationships wth both War Minister John Profumo and Soviet naval attache Captain Yevgeny Mikhailovich Ivanov during the Cold War.
Naturally, Christine’s flings sparked a national security inquiry as the Conservative Party lead by PM Harold Macmillan feared the dancer could have passed vital information between the two sparring sides, which subsequently caused the collapse of the government.
Mandy and Christine were both dancers at Murray’s Cabaret Soho Club where they first met the well-connected Dr Stephen Ward who introduced Mandy to her lover Peter Rachman.
While Mandy never met Profumo, she gained notoriety during Stephen’s trial when he was found guilty of living off immoral earnings – Mandy and Christine’s ‘immoral earnings’. Essentially, the osteopath worked as a pimp to climb the social rankings of London. The girls were mere teenagers, but proved themselves as ferocious women when the government, the press and the public deemed them as ‘trash’. No wonder then, Ellie thinks her subject is ‘f**king great’.
‘I just think she’s so brave,’ she told Metro.co.uk. ‘It’s a really special quality to have. I think that was thing the thing: she was always able to smile through it and she had this incredible sense of humour.’ Ellie never got meet her new idol, but she was fortunate enough to get a rare insight into Mandy from her daughter, Dana. ‘I only spoke to her after [filming] but she gave me some incredible stories,’ Ellie continued.
‘To give an explanation of Mandy, they were driving and the police stopped them and Mandy just switched into this French accent and started speaking to the police and started saying, “Sorry, I don’t know where? What you’re talking about.” And dana was saying, “what are you doing with that accent?” So I got these beautiful special stories from her.’
Mandy died in 2014, and subsequently had no idea the BBC were going to explore her teenage years again for a six part drama. Christine, however, was told about The Trial of Christine Keeler shortly after production got the green light before her death in 2017.
The Trial of Christine Keeler starts tonight at 9pm on BBC One.