ideas, history, culture.

Sign-up for the Age of Division newsletter.

Stephen Ward is both pointed and revealing

The shocking story behind a major British political scandal.

Stephen Ward, the musical.


Clever, funny and rude, Stephen Ward tells the story of the 1963 Profumo affair, with a focus on the establishment figure of Stephen Ward, widely seen as the fall guy in the scandal, who took his life after being taken to court for living off immoral earnings.

Heavy on the biting satire and revealing in the saucy details of the affair (the bed-hopping, threesomes and S&M sessions, etc), as well as the juicy Fleet Street stories that filled the papers at the time, Stephen Ward also has something to say about how the establishment worked then and, by inference, how it continues to work today.


A major shock to early 1960s British politics, the Profumo affair was triggered when it was revealed that John Profumo, Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan's Conservative government, had an extramarital affair with the 19-year-old model Christine Keeler. Profumo denied the affair in the House of Commons. A police investigation then exposed the truth, proving that Profumo had lied to parliament, damaging the credibility of Macmillan's premiership and contributing to the Conservative government's defeat in the 1964 general election.

When the scandal broke, public interest was heightened by reports that Keeler may have been simultaneously involved in a relationship with Captain Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet naval attaché, thereby creating a possible national security risk.

Keeler knew both Profumo and Ivanov through her friendship with Ward, an osteopath and socialite at the time. The exposure of the affair generated rumours of other scandals and drew attention to the activities of Ward himself, wh