Sex, spies and lies. What else is needed to create a blockbuster show? The Profumo Affair, a scandal that shook the UK at the peak of the Cold War, involving an alleged Soviet spy, could be set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
In the early 1960s, a London osteopath and bon-vivant, Dr Stephen Ward, introduced his “close friend”, 19-year-old dancer Christine Keeler, to the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo. Their affair reportedly lasted only a couple of weeks. The bad news was that the sexy damsel was simultaneously having another affair with someone else, who turned out to be a Soviet naval attaché at the Russian Embassy in London, Eugene Ivanov, an alleged Russian spy.
To cut a long story short, in summer 1963, Profumo had to resign his cabinet post, while Ward was arrested and charged with living off immoral earnings. However, on the last day of his trial, Ward was found dead at his home as a result of an overdose of sleeping pills.
Andrew Lloyd Webber was quoted as saying that it is actually the figure of Stephen Ward, once the flavor of the month in London and the next minute a pariah, that triggered his thoughts of creating his musical.
It is not the first time The Profumo Affair has inspired artists to bring the story on stage. In 1989, a British film called Scandal was created starring John Hurt as Ward and Joanne Whalley as Christine Keeler.