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This England: Inside Kenneth Branagh's split from Emma Thompson

The actor once found himself at the centre of a cheating scandal...

kenneth emma
Eve Crosbie
TV & Film Writer
28 September 2022
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New Sky drama This England kicks off on Wednesday evening and will see award-winning actor and director Kenneth Branagh take on the role of former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he grapples with the onset of Covid-19 amid Brexit while dealing with changes in his personal and family life.

MORE: Kenneth Branagh responds to criticism over Boris Johnson Covid drama This England

But did you know the lead star once found himself at the centre of a headline-making scandal? Find out all about Kenneth Branagh's acrimonious split from actress Emma Thompson and secret affair with Helena Bonham-Carter here…

WATCH: Are you tuning into to This England?

Kenneth and Emma were once considered the golden couple of British cinema after they struck up a romance on the set of the 1987 mini-series Fortunes Of War. They tied the knot two years later in a lavish ceremony at Cliveden Country House, but marital bliss did not last very long and after six years together, they separated. 

MORE: Emma Thompson transforms into Miss Trunchbull for Matilda the Musical - and you will not recognise her!

MORE: Emma Thompson reveals real heartbreak that inspired Love Actually scene

The divorce of the seemingly happy couple - who shared no children together - left the public shocked. At the time, they cited conflicting work schedules, but it turned out that their marriage had been rocked by a cheating scandal. 

emma thompson

Emma Thompson and Sir Kenneth Branagh pictured on their 1989 wedding day

In the weeks following their separation, it emerged that Belfast director Kenneth was having an extra-marital affair with actress Helena Bonham Carter. It's believed that their secret relationship began on the set of the 1994 film Frankenstein, in which they both starred in.

Oscar winner Emma spoke out about the affair for the first time in 2013, telling the Sunday Times that she has "made her peace" with her former love rival. "You can't hold on to anything like that," she said. "It's pointless. I haven't got the energy for it. Helena and I made our peace years and years ago."

kenneth helena

Kenneth and Helena began a secret affair while filming a movie together in 1995

She went on to say that she is similar to Helena - who appeared alongside her in 1992's Howard End and the Harry Potter films - and that may well have been the reason her ex-husband fell for them both.

MORE: Emma Thompson's daughter lands role in BBC's Silent Witness

"Oh we are. Being slightly mad and a bit fashion-challenged. Perhaps that's why Ken loved us both. She's a wonderful woman, Helena."

After Kenneth and Emma's divorce was finalised, he continued his romance with Helena until 1999, when they went their separate ways. He then found love again and married film art director Lindsay Brunnock in 2003, the same year that Emma tied the knot for the second time with her Sense and Sensibility co-star Greg Wise.

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