Cutting Edge: Who Killed the Playboy Earl? (Channel 4)

Who Killed the Playboy Earl?
7 February 2008
Cutting Edge
Channel 4

When Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, went missing from his luxury hotel in Cannes on 5 November 2004, it inspired a press frenzy that exposed a frothy mix of glamour, vice, drink, drugs and fallen aristocracy.

The press exposed the lifestyle of the 66-year old earl – ‘Atty’ to his friends – who held one of the most distinguished lineages in the country, but who had become an ageing, sex-obsessed adventurer, whose wayward life created passion and jealousy in his many lovers, and eventually a vicious rivalry that led to the Earl’s sudden death.

This film tells the extraordinary story of the Earl’s downfall – his transformation from the Eton-educated millionaire philanthropist, patron of the Owl Trust and heir to the great social reformer Lord Shaftesbury – into a medallion-wearing lothario with an insatiable appetite for young women who became lured into the ruthless demi-monde of ‘hostess bars’ on the French Riviera.

Who Killed the Playboy Earl is an independent production for Channel 4 by Blast! Films. The British Film Institute Film & TV Database entry for this programme is here.

Director: Robert Davis
Producer: Adrian Gatton
Executive Producer: Grant McKee

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