Ellie Bamber Network

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Welcome to Ellie Bamber Network, your best and most reliable online resource dedicated to the english actress and singer Ellie Bamber. You may know Ellie from her roles in Les Misérables, Nocturnal Animals, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and more. It is our aim to bring you all the latest news, exclusive photos, information and much more on Ellies life and career. We hope you enjoy your stay and please come back soon!

‘This Morning’ TV Show

Ellie was on the morning of Thursday (December 19) at ITV Studios in London participating in her first TV interview on ‘This Morning’. Ellie was at the show to talk about ‘The Trial of Christine Keeler‘ which hits BBC One on December 29th at 9pm. When I get the video of the interview, this post will be updated, for now find the photos in our gallery!

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BBC MEDIA CENTRE: Interview with Ellie Bamber

BBC Media Center shared their exclusive interview with the cast of ‘The Trial of Christine Keeler‘.

In my opinion, the importance of this story is that it demonstrates the shift in how female sexuality is viewed by society. Christine and Mandy were two young girls who turned what was socially accepted of them on its head

Interview with Ellie Bamber, who plays Mandy Rice-Davies.

What was it that made you want to play Mandy Rice-Davies?
Amanda Coe’s scripts are incredible. She is so witty and has a passion for the characters that shone through in her scripts. We are playing real life people and they really do come across as real life characters within the scripts. Mandy has this incredible hunger for success that guides her through life. She simultaneously cares quite a lot about what people think of her but, at the same time, she just keeps going with this tunnel vision to success regardless of anything. She’s ballsy, a lot of fun and has a real hunger for knowledge.

She sees men as being quite infantile and she placates them. On the surface she seems to give them everything that they want, when actually she’s getting what she wants. Mandy is a very well-oiled machine and someone that has a business head on at all times. She knows what she wants and she just keeps going.

Mandy Rice-Davies seemingly navigated the pressure of the trial better than Christine. What would you say were the differences between Mandy and Christine?
Mandy manipulated and took advantage of the bad situation she found herself in and used it to her advantage. In many ways I think that’s pretty heroic. I think that was probably to do with the fact that she had such a thick skin and, compared to Christine, had a fairly easy and normal childhood.

Can you tell us about Mandy and Christine’s friendship?
Mandy was younger than Christine but had this coping mechanism, which sometimes meant she could be perceived as being quite fickle, but it allowed her to stay in control. She could get quite emotional in the heat of the moment but was able to forget about it fairly quickly. Whereas Christine let things build up – she was a free spirit and slightly chaotic. They’re different in that way but it led to Mandy taking on a maternal role towards Christine. Mandy is very proper and believes things should be conducted in a proper way, whilst Christine is reactive and in that sense very human.

Why do you think now is the right time to tell Christine and Mandy’s story?
In my opinion, the importance of this story is that it demonstrates the shift in how female sexuality is viewed by society. Before Christine and Mandy’s story, men were allowed to sleep around whilst if women did the same they were labelled as prostitutes. Christine and Mandy were two young girls who turned what was socially accepted of them on its head, and because they discarded the social norms of the time the government punished them. They also punished Stephen Ward. I think they created this moment that made society question whether it was right for men in power to continue to do whatever they wanted. People started to realise it was wrong and to question their politicians and moral leaders.

We now look back at that time through a very different lens. Do you think the audience will view their story in a different way?
Mandy and Christine were totally manipulated. Both the police and media coerced them into saying things that they otherwise wouldn’t have. I don’t believe Christine or Mandy knew what else to do. They were both so young and were backed into a corner by people with more experience, authority and power. It must have been very demoralising as they were facing a trial and prison sentences whilst also being labelled as prostitutes and call girls in the media. I think we might have a far more advanced moral understanding of their situation now and might be able to comprehend that these girls were young, having a good time and actually not doing anything wrong. They weren’t married or cheating on their other halves like the men in this story.

Did you do any of your own research for this part?
I read Mandy’s book, Mandy, and I really loved it. The book is all her own story and from her own point of view (as it always is with Mandy!). She has an incredible energy to her and it helped me to slowly understand her as a person. With Mandy what you see is what you get. She has this honesty to her; she’s very open about the fact that all she wants to do is to become a famous actress, find a nice husband and settle down with lots of money. She’s very clear and so there is no underlying nastiness to her, she is just driven.

It’s amazing to have a character so driven and hell-bent on making the best life she can for herself. There is a funny story about Mandy attending a Mini Cooper convention in her hometown. She turned up uninvited, wearing just a bikini and posed for photographs on the cars, as she wanted to be a model. That’s Mandy! She had this determination within that’s so admirable. She is unapologetic and outrageous. I also listened to interviews that she’d given, read newspaper articles and a book called An English Affair, by Richard Davenport-Hines, that gave me a lot more background on the scandal.

Andrea Harkin has been at the helm of this drama. What was it like working with her and what did having a female director bring to the production?
It was brilliant working with Andrea. We clicked from the start and she has a real love for each of the characters that was amazing to see. I loved crafting Mandy with Andrea – she had an incredible knowledge of the case and such an eye for detail. She would often remind us of the wider story before we started a scene, which was really helpful because often you can get lost in a scene and it’s easy to forget the context, especially when you’re shooting six episodes.

Can you tell us about how you worked with costume designer Pam Downe, and hair and make-up designer Inma Azorin to create Mandy’s look?
Inma and Pam went to such incredible lengths to recreate authentic looks, as well as sourcing original looks. The colour palette for Mandy contained a lot of pastel pinks and blues, a reflection of her energetic personality. For Mandy, her hair, make-up and choice of clothes are a mask for her; they’re her battle armour to get her into Mandy mode. We created a look for Mandy that is playful but also very pristine. Pam created these incredible suits for the court scenes. One is like a Chanel suit and the other is a beautiful blush pink and they were incredible. I want to wear them every day and don’t understand why women don’t dress like that anymore! I’ve totally fallen in love with 1960s fashion.

What is the world like that Mandy inhabits?
Mandy and Christine have this close relationship that is so gorgeous. We see at the beginning how they are just two young, free-spirited girls having fun together, and nowhere more so than at Stephen Ward’s home at Wimpole Mews. The team created such an incredible set for it. The level of detail that the production design team have gone to is incredible. Even down to fine details such as what’s in the fridge or cupboard. When you open the fridge or the cupboard in one of these sets it’s fully dressed with plates that Mandy might have or food in the fridge that Stephen might have. There has been so much thought put into that and a real understanding of each character and how they might live.

What was Mandy’s relationship with Stephen and Christine?
There is one particular scene, which I think is my favourite, where Mandy is teaching Christine and Stephen how to get out of a sports car. I think it’s just this youthful, careless and free relationship that they have with each other where they can just talk for hours on end about their dreams, their hopes, inane and silly things and just be themselves. It’s not conventional or what people might perceive as normal, but in that was incredible beauty.

Christine and Stephen met first, and then Christine later introduced Mandy before the three of them moved in together. Stephen and Mandy slept together once but as I recall from the book, and who knows if this is true, but at one point Mandy claims that her and Stephen once talked about how it might be mutually convenient for them to marry. Not in a way that they were in a sexual relationship with each other – I think that part of their relationship was very fleeting – but they got on well and thought they might as well marry!

What do you think Mandy made of Christine’s affair with John Profumo?
I don’t think Mandy could comprehend how Profumo could possibly walk away from it all unscathed but Christine could not; how Christine’s name would be dragged through the mud. Mandy’s feeling was that he was equally responsible for the affair, so why was Christine the only one being punished for it? Mandy saw it as something that could have been used as a career move, she was constantly pushing Christine into taking it as an opportunity for modelling and acting because all Mandy wanted to do was be an actress. An interesting thing about Mandy is that when she sees Christine being offered screen tests, instead of being jealous, she actually encourages her and was excited for her.

How did you and Sophie Cookson collaborate on building the chemistry between Christine and Mandy?
I originally saw Sophie as Christine when we first read together, and I thought  it was incredible how she inhabited the character. I’ve loved watching her work and really learnt from her process, but other than that we’ve become really good friends. When we first met the two of us went out for dinner. We had a really interesting conversation with one of the drivers on set who was there to drive the vintage cars and he had actually met Christine and Mandy and had been close to them. That was really interesting and a really special moment to talk to someone who had actually known the women.

What do you think audiences who might not be familiar with the Profumo affair will make of this drama?
I think that people are always fascinated by real-life stories and understanding how things actually happened through uncovering new information. I also think it’s a story about abuse of power and that is something people are interested in: how corruption does exist within our society and there is abuse of power which is awful, particularly towards young women.

It seems that this was a chapter in Mandy’s story rather than something that dominated her life, as it did for Christine.
Mandy did very well. She moved on and really made something of herself. She went to Israel and she helped with the war effort and did some incredible things. She opened her own clubs and had her own fashion label – this was a woman who went from being called a prostitute in all the newspapers to becoming a self-made millionaire. I think that is a nice story, that in the face of adversity she was able to take control and push forward. She had a husband for a time but for a lot of her life she was single and became this woman who was known for her ability to connect people.

The Trial Christine Keelerwill premiere on Sunday 29th December at 9pm on BBC One.

STELLA MAGAZINE: The untold story of the Profumo Affair: Ellie Bamber on playing the ‘heroine’ behind the 1960s sex scandal

Check out Stella’s Magazine full interview with our girl as part of The Trial of Christine Keeler’s promotion.

As she takes on the role of Mandy Rice-Davies – the model at the centre of the Profumo affair that rocked 1960s London – actor Ellie Bamber tells Caroline Leaper why it’s so important that the women’s side of the story is finally heard.

Ellie Bamber is still wearing the lilac eyeshadow from her Stella shoot when we meet an hour later for tea. With her aquamarine eyes and strawberry-blonde hair, she looks ethereal, despite having spent the past four hours gamely posing in a Notting Hill mews in the freezing cold, wearing a Chanel miniskirt and throwing a puffer coat on between shots. It couldn’t be a more appropriate location, given that her major new television role is set in a very similar London mews in the early 1960s. Ellie plays Mandy Rice-Davies in The Trial of Christine Keeler, a new BBC TV series about the unravelling of the Profumo affair in 1963, starring James Norton, Emilia Fox and Sophie Cookson, and written by Amanda Coe, whose previous hits include the thriller, Apple Tree Yard.

Best known for playing Cosette in last year’s BBC adaptation of Les Misérables and India Hastings in Tom Ford’s 2016 film Nocturnal Animals, this is Ellie’s biggest role to date.

‘I was so excited to play Mandy,’ she says. ‘I knew quite a bit about her already, as my grandmother’s parents ran a pub in east London, and my grandmother was a hairdresser, so she had heard rumblings of the story when she was growing up. I had read Mandy’s autobiography and it was interesting to speak to my grandmother about it, as she only knew what she had essentially been fed by the press at the time. Mandy was phenomenal. I think she was so misunderstood and is actually one of the heroes of this story.’

An icon of the swinging ’60s, the Welsh model and showgirl was at the centre of the scandal that threatened to bring down Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s government in 1963. Her life changed for ever when news broke that John Profumo, then Secretary of State for War, was sharing a mistress, her flatmate, 19-year-old Christine Keeler, with a Soviet naval attaché, Yevgeny Ivanov. Profumo resigned soon afterwards, and months later Macmillan stood down on health grounds. The reputation of the Conservative Party was irreparably damaged by the scandal, and the following year they were defeated by the Labour Party in the general election.

Mandy had met Christine (played by Kingsman actress Sophie Cookson), when the pair worked as dancers at Murray’s Cabaret Club in London’s Soho. They became involved in a series of relationships with high-profile men, with many of the introductions facilitated by society osteopath Stephen Ward at his Wimpole Mews home.

Ward would later go on trial, charged with living off of the ‘immoral earnings’ of Mandy and Christine, who were alleged to have been among a group of call girls run by Ward. Testifying in court, Mandy delivered a riposte that would become headline news: a witness, Lord Astor, denied having had an affair with her or even meeting her, to which she replied, ‘Well, he would, wouldn’t he?’

I thought a lot about how to do that famous line,’ Ellie says of the challenge to pull off a phrase that has made its way into the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations – even today, the initials MRDA, standing for ‘Mandy Rice-Davies applies’, are used to suggest scepticism of any claim. ‘Everyone was asking me, “What are you going to do with the line?” In some court transcripts it says that she giggled as she said it, and I experimented but didn’t use it in the end. In her book she wrote that although it came across as a cheeky comment, she was just being honest and saying, “How could you expect this man not to lie about something like that?”’

At 22, Ellie is not much older than Christine and Mandy were when they were put on ‘trial’ by the national press. With sex and spying at the centre of the political scandal, and two beautiful young women to splash pictures of, the papers exploded with the story and both women struggled to move on from it afterwards.

What appealed to Ellie about this new telling of the tale, she says, was that it is the first time anyone has viewed it from the perspective of the women, rather than the sexist gaze of the press and male politicians. ‘The girls didn’t really have a voice, because as much as people wanted to hear their side of the story, they also wanted to very quickly judge them and call them sluts,’ Ellie says. ‘I think it’s disgusting [how they were treated].

Mandy and Christine were two young women who enjoyed sex and were perfectly allowed to have sex with as many people as they wanted. This was the start of the 1960s and a segue into free love; you can see now how this event was a catalyst. I think it’s really sad that they weren’t able to enjoy their sexuality. In our current day, we have moved on a little bit, but we’ve still got further to go.’

Getting into character as Mandy required a dramatic transformation. Ellie’s Berkshire accent sounds softly aristocratic and her tousled hair has flitted between shades of her natural white-blonde colour and red dye jobs over the last few years. She adopted Mandy’s Llanelli-Solihull blended accent (Mandy moved from Wales to the Midlands as a child), as well as her heavy eyeliner and stiff yellow-blonde beehive updo. She didn’t need to act the fire, though; Ellie is a passionate feminist, swears a lot, and sticks up for the characters she plays.

‘Mandy is f—king funny,’ she enthuses. ‘She’s bright, she’s intelligent. She has this façade throughout, as her clothes were an outer layer that was like her battle armour to go into these humiliating situations where people would be shouting at her in the street.’

Continue reading “STELLA MAGAZINE: The untold story of the Profumo Affair: Ellie Bamber on playing the ‘heroine’ behind the 1960s sex scandal”

THE TIMES: The true story of the BBC’s The Trial of Christine Keeler

Full exclusive interview of The Times magazine with the cast of ‘The Trial of Christine Keeler‘.

The Trial of Christine Keeler was filmed in Bristol, some of whose citizens turned out to have long, unkind and not necessarily accurate memories of an affair that became Britain’s gold standard for political sex scandals. One morning, Sophie Cookson, who in this new BBC drama plays Keeler, the young woman credited with bringing down a prime minister, overheard a shopper as she passed the shoot. “Oh yes, well, she was the prostitute,” she educated her companion.

“For me,” Cookson says in a photo studio in London a few months later, “it was just like, ‘Gosh, some people are so fixed in their opinion about it and so quick to judge.’ I think as a society we need to be forgiving and understanding and kind to each other. All Christine did was have an affair with a man she found attractive. And yet that led to this whirlwind of chaos, which she lived with throughout her life.”

The man Keeler found attractive was John Profumo, the archaically named secretary of state for war in an exhausted Tory government. An Old Harrovian, decorated war hero and philanderer, Profumo was 46 when he met Keeler, this astoundingly beautiful working-class girl from Berkshire, the product of an unhappy upbringing in a pair of converted railway carriages. The venue for their encounter was, in cinematic contrast, a sunny, champagne-drenched summer party at Cliveden, the country home of Lord Astor, a former Tory MP who had inherited his wealth from Waldorf Astor, his newspaper-proprietor father. Keeler was 19 and naked, having emerged from the viscount’s outdoor swimming pool. Profumo kept looking. Their liaison was brief – a couple of months, perhaps – but at the same party was another guest, Yevgeny Ivanov, assistant navy attaché and spy at the Soviet embassy. Keeler, it was said – and it may even have been true – also slept with him, possibly later that very afternoon.

The Cold War was never hotter than when this supposed love triangle rang out.

The Profumo affair – a double entendre in its very naming – was born. It reached a pause two years later when, on June 5, 1963, buried under an avalanche of press speculation, Profumo resigned, admitting he had lied when he had told parliament ten weeks earlier there was “no impropriety whatsoever” in his “acquaintance with Miss Keeler”. The Times published a leader, “It Is a Moral Issue”, accusing the prime minister, Harold Macmillan, of “debauching” the nation. In October that year, Macmillan quit during the Conservative Party conference, his resignation relayed from the hospital where he was being operated on for a benign tumour on his prostate.

The Profumo drama almost immediately recommissioned itself a second season. Six weeks on, Stephen Ward, an osteopath, artist and friend to high society who had introduced Keeler to both the spy and the cabinet minister, went on trial at the Old Bailey accused of procuring and living off immoral earnings. Keeler appeared for the prosecution, claiming Ward had turned her into a prostitute. In what is now seen as a miscarriage of justice and an establishment stitch-up, the scapegoat was found guilty. As the verdict was pronounced, he lay dying of an overdose. A suicide note read that while he was sorry to disappoint the “vultures”, he felt the day was lost, an insouciance in the charmer’s voice remaining to the last.

Like “the Profumo affair”, “the trial of Stephen Ward” became a phrase. Half a century on, The Trial of Christine Keeler subverts both dashes of shorthand. Firmly at the centre of its story is Keeler herself, variously over the years regarded as either a vixen or a victim, but in this clever retelling by the screenwriter Amanda Coe – and thanks to Cookson’s astounding performance – not quite either. Surrounding Cookson in the imbroglio are James Norton as the enigmatic Ward, Ellie Bamber as Keeler’s chipper friend Mandy Rice-Davies and Ben Miles as the lothario Profumo. In a series of interviews, each actor speaks to me with loyalty to the morally ambiguous, now departed figures they stand in for, although none is probably as indignantly faithful as Cookson is to Keeler.

Continue reading “THE TIMES: The true story of the BBC’s The Trial of Christine Keeler”