Sienna Miller has real-life link to on-screen Anatomy of a Scandal mother-in-law

Viewers have been lapping up the classy new Netflix drama Anatomy of a Scandal, in which Sienna Miller plays Sophie Whitehouse, whose Tory minister husband James (Rupert Friend) faces a rape trial following a messy affair with a parliamentary aide.

The hit series, which became the streaming channel's top show after landing on the site on 15 April, also stars Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery as Kate Woodcroft, the barrister aiming to prosecute James after he is accused of rape by Olivia Lytton (Naomi Scott).

But what fans might not have known is that Sienna has a surprising link to Phoebe Nicholls, the actress who plays her screen mother Tuppence, who refuses to believe her son could be guilty.

Sienna – who herself became embroiled in a scandal after her fiance, actor Jude Law admitted to an affair with his children's nanny during his relationship with the Factory Girl star – suggested Phoebe for the role of Tuppence.

And in filming the drama they were reliving their real life link, as Phoebe is the mother of Tom Sturridge, Sienna's ex, with whom she shares daughter Marlowe.

"We call her the mother-out-of-law," Sienna has said of Phoebe, who is married to writer and director Charles Sturridge. She made her name in dramas like 1981's Brideshead Revisited and appeared in the fifth series of epic period drama Downton Abbey, alongside her Anatomy of a Scandal co-star Michelle Dockery.

Explaining why she thought of Phoebe for the role, Sienna said, "She's extraordinary and such an incredible actor."

The drama, which shows a young James as a member of an elite Oxford clique called The Libertines, has reminded many viewers of the notorious real life Bullingdon Club, whose members included former Prime Minister David Cameron and current PM Boris Johnson.

A similar group of students were at the centre of the 2014 film, The Riot Club.

And Sarah Vaughan, who wrote the novel on which the drama is based, admitted that the current debate over Partygate is pretty timely as the series focussing on entitlement airs.

"Obviously, on a human level, I would really rather we didn't have a prime minister who’d been fined for breaking lockdown rules…it is freaky timing. Hopefully, it will give the show a bit more resonance.”

And Michelle Dockery's character Kate highlights the theme when she says, “I often wonder what it must be like to know that however you behave, you will always be excused and forgiven."

As fans race through the series, the big question is whether James Whitehouse will be brought down by the trial.

But if he is found not guilty, can his marriage to wronged Sophie possibly survive?

Anatomy of a Scandal is on Netflix now.

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