Claire Foy on filming sex scenes: “You can’t help but feel exploited”

“It’s the grimmest thing you can do”

Claire Foy has said she feels “exploited” when filming sex scenes, describing the experience as the “grimmest thing you can do”.

The actor plays Margaret Campbell, the Duchess of Argyll, in new BBC series A Very British Scandal, who was subject of salacious gossip and stories after the publication of explicit photographs during her divorce proceedings.

The series delves into the 1963 court case, where husband Ian Campbell (played by Paul Bettany) alleged she had sex with 88 men, and provided photographs showing her giving an unknown man oral sex.

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Speaking about filming sex scenes for the show on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Foy said: “It’s a really hard line because basically you do feel exploited when you are a woman and you are having to perform fake sex on screen. You can’t help but feel exploited.

“It’s grim – it’s the grimmest thing you can do. You feel exposed. Everyone can make you try to not feel that way but it’s unfortunately the reality.

“But my thing was that I felt very strongly that it had to be in it, but I wanted it to be female. I did not want it to be that sort of awful climactic sexual experience you often see on the cinema screen.”

The series explores the attitudes towards women during the 1960s, as the duchess remained defiant despite being vilified publicly by the press, friends, and the judiciary. The show also covers the famed court case, where accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drug-taking, secret recording and bribery all emerge.

Speaking about the series, writer Sarah Phelps said: “Writing the story of Margaret’s life and the events leading up to and including her divorce from the Duke has been a passion project of mine since 1993 when I first heard her name and started learning about her.

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“I felt very strongly that she’d been punished for being a woman, for being visible, for refusing to back down, be a good girl and go quietly. This drama is my tribute to her.”

A Very British Scandal will air over three consecutive nights on BBC One starting on Boxing Day.

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