The Profumo affair in popular culture: The Keeler Affair (1963) and ‘the commercial exploitation of a public scandal’

Richard Farmer

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Abstract

This article demonstrates that the Profumo affair, which obsessed Britain for large parts of 1963, was not simply a political scandal, but was also an important cultural event. Focussing on the production of The Keeler Affair, a feature film that figured prominently in contemporary coverage of the scandal but which has been largely overlooked since, the article shows that this film emerged from a situation in which cultural entrepreneurs, many of them associated with the satire boom, sought to exploit the scandal for financial gain. Many Profumo-related cultural products found an audience, and thus formed an integral part of, and helped to shape public attitudes towards, the Profumo affair. However, these products did not go uncontested, and resistance to them, and especially to the idea that Keeler might benefit materially from her role in the scandal, speak to concerns about cultural mediations of sex, politics and humour in early-1960s Britain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-470
Number of pages19
JournalContemporary British History
Volume31
Issue number3
Early online date29 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Profumo affair
  • satire
  • cinema
  • Christine Keeler
  • scandal

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