Natalie Dormer has returned to period drama, playing Lady Seymour Worsley in BBC2’s upcoming The Scandalous Lady W. Lady Worsley caused a scandal by fleeing her unhappy marriage and eloping with her husband’s best friend Captain George Bisset. ““I am thrilled to be playing a woman who was so ahead of her time. Though our story is set in the 18th century, it challenges and explores the issues still fully relevant today of freedom and equality,” said Natalie.
The Scandalous Lady W is directed by Sheree Folkson, who directed Doctor Who episode In the Forest of the Night last year. Award winning playwright David Eldridge based his screenplay on historian Hallie Rubenhold’s book Lady Worsley’s Whim. The book is inspired by the full length oil painting of Lady Worsley that hangs in Harewood House in Yorkshire.
While marriage break-ups were not entirely unheard of, Lady and Sir Richard Worsley’s caused a further sensation when Sir Richard sued Bisset for damages totalling £20,000. However the case began to fall apart when it was revealed that Sir Richard had allowed Bisset to see Lady Worsley naked.
The Scandalous Lady W also stars Aneurin Barnard (Cilla, White Queen) as Captain George Bisset, Shaun Evans (Endeavour, Silk) as Sir Richard Worsley, Jessica Gunning (Fortitude, Pride) as Mary Sotheby and Peter Sullivan (The Hour, The Borgias) as James Farrar.
The London screening caused a little stir itself this week, with some comment on the use of the word “f***” to describe sex, a reference to “screwing” and a woman being called a “bitch”. But Hallie Rubenhold says the language is fitting for the period. “If you’ll pardon my French, the word ‘f—’ and the word ‘bitch’ were used very regularly in 18th century parlance. There is a fantastic line, ‘If that bitch comes in here again I’ll shoot her’ – that’s actually taken from a deposition statement.”
The Scandalous Lady W airs August 20.
Update: The Scandalous Lady W trailer