Paramount-owned UK broadcaster Channel 5 has ordered a feature-length documentary around the life and murder of the 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, who suffered one of the biggest falls from grace ever seen in the British aristocracy.
Produced by Spun Gold TV, The Earl, His Lover, The Escort And Her Brother (1 x 90-minutes) includes the first interview with Jamila M’Barek, the woman convicted of aiding and abetting the Earl’s murder, as well as lawyers, detectives, and reporters, along with details of police recordings of Jamila’s phone calls, and archive footage to unravel the truth behind the crime.
Executive produced by Charlotte Smith, the doc is being distributed worldwide by All3Media International. This new commission for Spun Gold TV follows recent orders for unscripted projects including Bill Bailey’s Master Crafters: The Next Generation, for Sky Arts and MILF Manor for Discovery+ and sibling US cablenet TLC.
Anthony Ashley-Cooper was one of Britain’s wealthiest men, scion of an historic family whose assets included grand properties in the UK and France, a 9,000-acre estate and works of art worth tens of millions of pounds. He split his time between the ancestral family home in Dorset and the French Riviera where he enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle of drink, drugs and sex, all funded by his multi-million-pound inheritance.
While in France, the Earl met M’Barek, a divorcée and the mother of two, through an escort agency and in 2002, married her, making her the third Countess of Shaftesbury. Two years later, after seeking a divorce, the Earl was found dead and M’Barek confessed that her brother was responsible for the murder.
Channel 5 and Paramount+ commissioning editor, factual, Denise Seneviratne, revealed: “For the first time ever, Jamila, having served nine years of a 20-year prison sentence, gives an exclusive interview on her marriage and the ill-fated night that led to murder.
“It’s a tragic tale where wealth, privilege and glamour meets the seedy underworld in Cannes and one which I think will really engage our audience.”