Created by Sarah Phelps, ‘A Very British Scandal’ is a historical drama series of immense fascination. This masterful handling of history comes from the same production house that delivered us ‘A Very English Scandal.’ The series chronicles the tumultuous marriage of Margaret Campbell and Ian Campbell, popularly known as Duke and Duchess of Argyll. From the inception of their romance, the series leads us to the notorious 1963 Argyll versus Argyll divorce case that becomes the talk of the town. Behind its incredible production value, it reflects upon themes like adultery, violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, forgery, and the woman question.
Following the premiere of the limited series on the original network BBC One, it garnered much praise from critics and the audience for its commendable and neutral handling of a sensitive topic in the popular imagination and its concerns with the social and political climate of the 1960s Scotland. You may have an idea of how difficult it is to create an authentic timepiece, making one wonder how the cast and crew envisioned such a contagious ambiance. If the thought is bugging you, let us go to the bottom of the matter.
A Very British Scandal Filming Locations
‘A Very British Scandal’ was filmed in locations in and around the UK, especially in Scotland and London. Since the show is steeped in the history of Britain, the cast and crew had to film the bulk of the series in real locations to maintain authenticity. Si Bell, known for his work on ‘Peaky Blinders‘ and ‘Pennyworth,’ came on board as the cinematographer. On the other hand, Christina Moore, who was in the art department of ‘Game of Thrones,’ handled the production design.
Thanks to its impeccable maintenance of historical heritage, and an equally fascinating historical lineage, the UK is one of the prime locations to set movies and television shows. As this series deals with a chapter ingrained in British history, the production team naturally wanted to take the viewers to the actual locations. They filmed scenes in several iconic heritage buildings and some lesser-known ones in the process. Let us now take you to the specific areas where the series was filmed!
Argyll and Bute, Scotland
The story is about the Duke of Argyll, and how can it be that the production crew would leave the abode of the duke? We can vouch that the exteriors of the Inveraray Castle showcased in the series is quite realistic because the crew actually filmed the exterior scenes outside the iconic castle. Situated at Inveraray, the county seat of Argyll, on the shore of Loch Fyne, the country house flaunts one of the earliest instances of Gothic Revival architecture. If you manage to visit the town between March and October, you can have a look at the enticing slice of Scottish history yourself.
You can spend a lazy afternoon in the vast gardens or may have a peek inside the castle. This castle is the same site that stands for Duneagle Castle, the Crawley family’s holiday retreat in ‘Downton Abbey.’ However, for the interior scenes and the gardens, the production team got hold of Ardkinglas House, a Category A listed heritage building in Argyll. The building lies on the eastern part of Loch Fyne, near the village of Cairndow, in the same Argyll and Bute council area.
Glen Etive, Scotland
Ian drives Margaret to his ancestral home early in the series through lush and spectacular scenery. Those scenes were lensed in and around Glen Etive, a major glen (narrow valley) and wildlife conservation area in Scotland. Part of the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area, Glen Etive roughly begins at the Kings House and stretches till the 30km long Loch Etive. Due to the abundance of nature and Moorish geography, the Glen is a popular filming destination, as depicted in blockbusters like ‘Braveheart‘ and ‘Skyfall.’
As the series seamlessly mingles two timelines of events, we see Margaret arrive at court for the divorce trial in the very opening sequence. The scene was also filmed in the actual location. The iconic Court of Session in Edinburgh’s Parliament House allowed the team to film the exterior scenes on site. Located in Parliament Square at a stone’s throw from St. Giles’ Cathedral, the Court of Session is a lasting part of Scotland’s legal history.
The crew also filmed several scenes in and around the Big Smoke. Ealing Town Hall, a Grade II listed municipal building in New Broadway in the Ealing neighborhood of London, stands in for the interior scenes of Edinburgh Court. The building also appeared in the Netflix movie ‘The Dig.’ The solicitor’s office, where Margaret signs her divorce papers, is located at 6 Fitzroy Square in London’s Fitzrovia. The archaic sandstone townhouses add an antique charm to the unique London square.
A few scenes also feature the Rivoli Ballroom, a nightclub situated at 350 Brockley Road. Located within the London Borough of Lewisham, the ballroom has the fame to be the only extant 1950s ballroom in the country. It flaunts enticing art deco architecture, and the interior fittings and decors reflect an authentic 50s nostalgia. In another memorable scene, Margaret introduces her parents to the Duke of Argyll. The scene was filmed at Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, an opulent 5-star hotel located in Piccadilly Square in the heart of London.
Several other touristy places also figure in the series, including Palm Court Brasserie, a famous city diner located at 39 King Street in London. The location for the gentlemen’s club, White’s, is Goldsmiths’ Hall, a Grade I listed building at the crossing of Foster Lane and Gresham Street. While the Goldsmiths’ Hall was not the original home of the White’s, the 11th Duke of Argyll was indeed a member of the club. The London home sequences of Ian and Margaret were filmed outside the Mayfair townhouse at 48 Upper Grosvenor Street.
The Grade II listed construct was the actual residence of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll in the 60s. The Duke of Argyll meets his future wife in The Night Ferry, a boat train that would depart from London’s Victoria station, reaching Paris’ Gare du Nord in 11 hours. However, if you are thinking of hopping on the train, you would be disheartened to know that the ride ceased to operate in 1980. Therefore, the scenes were constructed elsewhere. Moreover, some scenes were filmed on a site on the outskirts of west London.
The cast and crew also went to Kent County to film some scenes. The Golden Arrow train ride takes place in the historic Tenterden Town station. As an integral part of the Kent and East Sussex Railway, tourists still frequented the station. You may even catch a ride on the Bluebell Railway, a famous heritage railway that operates a revival of the original train network, complete with authentic Pullman Cars.
For Maureen’s house, the filming unit visited the iconic West Wycombe Park, which has become familiar to the global populace for its numerous appearances in films and television shows. Constructed between 1740 and 1800 near the village of West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, the country estate flaunts decadent Neoclassical architecture. From ‘The Crown‘ to ‘X-Men: First Class,’ a diverse range of productions have visited the location from time to time.
The crew further visited the county of Bedfordshire to film scenes at the Luton Hoo Hotel, a five-star tourist accommodation at The Mansion House in the village of Luton. The Claridge’s scenes were filmed in the iconic hotel, another popular filming destination in the country. From ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ to ‘Enola Holmes,’ the estate has handled remarkable productions.