‘Things were never quite as out of control for the establishment in this country as they were for about three or four months in the middle of 1963.’
Joe Boyd, executive producer of Scandal. the film of the Profumo affair
• Coming in 1963, at the height of the cold war, It would be no exaggeration to say that the Profumo affair, a scandal involving a cabinet minister, two showgirls, a society osteopath and a Soviet naval attaché, shook the British establishment to the core. How could our minister for war be sharing a girl with a Russia spy. Who knew what pillow talk might have passed between them?
• In the early sixties, authority was being challenged as never before. The satirical magazine Private Eye was on the streets and the irreverent revue, Beyond The Fringe had made it to the West End. Now satire burst onto the television screens of every family in Britain with the launch of That Was the Week That Was. Something new was in the air. The explosion of pop culture; on stage and screen and in the pop charts; Anthony Newley, John Barry and The Beatles were among the innovators who personified the new mood of irreverence and aspiration.
• Profumo was played out against this dynamic background. It was seen as the tip of the iceberg, with even the broadsheets accusing the Tories of “moral collapse”. The scandal proved to be a factor in the downfall of Prime Minister Harold MacMillan and the public mood for change was reflected in the result of the 1964 General Election, when Harold Wilson’s rejuvenated Labour seized power from a Conservative Party exhausted by scandal.
• FOOL BRITANNIA Is a comedy satire on Profumo, devised and written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse and recorded live by Newley, Bricusse, Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, Daniel Massey and Michael Lipton before an invited audience, at midnight in New York on 6 August 1963.
• The 1989 film SCANDAL, concerning the Profumo Affair, starred John Hurt, Ian McKellen, Joanne Whalley and Bridget Fonda. Both the production and soundtrack, with its eclectic selection of jazz and popular songs from the period, skilfully replicate the atmosphere of early sixties Britain.
• This Two disc set is completed by the original British cast recording of Anthony Newley’s revolutionary musical, one of the biggest hits of the ’60s, STOP THE WORLD – I WANT TO GET OFF and a selection of satirical sketches and songs and from THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS and THE ESTABLISHMENT; which include the performances by Millicent Martin, David Frost, Roy Kinnear, Lance Percival, Willie Rushton, Eleanor Bron and John Fortune.