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A Very British Scandal: Who is the ‘headless man’ in Claire Foy and Paul Bettany drama?

The Duchess of Argyll’s personal life is placed in the spotlight in the drama (Picture: BBC/Blueprint Pictures)

The second series of anthology drama A Very British Scandal arrives on Boxing Day on BBC One, telling the true story of the tumultuous marriage and subsequent divorce of Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll and Ian Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll.

Starring The Crown actor Claire Foy and WandaVision’s Paul Bettany, the three-part series depicts how Margaret was ‘hung out to dry’ after her public divorce battle with her husband, who she married in 1951.

During the highly-publicised clash, he acquired Polaroid photographs of his wife engaged in sexual acts with an unknown man or men, who were seen as ‘headless’ in the images, and therefore not easily identified.

There has been continued speculation over the years regarding the identity of the individual and whether it was more than one captured on film.

So who was the ‘headless man’?

Who is the headless man in A Very British Scandal?

A few years after the couple wed, the duke suspected that his wife might have been unfaithful to him.

The Duke of Argyll suspected his wife of infidelity (Picture: BBC/Blueprint Pictures)

After having a locksmith break into a cupboard in their home, he came across evidence that was used in their divorce proceedings, including a series of Polaroid photos featuring the duchess naked.

In one of the pictures, she was shown in the company of an unidentified man, with others also capturing her performing oral sex on a male figure, whose head was not seen as the image cut him off at the neck.

One of the names that cropped up as a possible candidate for the man in question was Duncan Sandys, the Minister of Defence, the son-in-law of Winston Churchill.

Other men who were suspected as being in the photos were actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr, American businessman John Cohane, former Savoy Hotel press officer Peter Combe and Sigismund von Braun, the brother of German scientist Wenher von Braun.

While the duchess never revealed who the headless man or men were in her lifetime, dying in 1993 at the age of 80, an article published in The Guardian in 2000 claimed that they had been identified.

According to a Channel 4 documentary that aired at the time, one of the men whose head was cut off was Sandys, with the other supposedly revealed to be Fairbanks Jr.

It’s said that Sandys was ‘conclusively proved’ to be a headless man in the photo because the duchess claimed that ‘the only Polaroid camera in the country at the time had been lent to the Ministry of Defence, where Sandys was a minister’.

Fairbanks was reportedly identified due to his handwriting, which may have been because of the captions written on the pictures.

Despite never disclosing the identities of the man or men, Margaret’s reputation suffered greatly for the rest of her life.

At the time of the divorce case, judge Lord Wheatley said: ‘She was a highly sexed woman who had ceased to be satisfied with normal relations and had started to indulge in disgusting sexual activities.’

A Very British Scandal begins tonight at 9pm on BBC One.

 


Credit: Original article published here.

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