Hugh Grant is to return to British television screens for the first time since the early 1990s as the disgraced MP Jeremy Thorpe, who in 1979 was tried but acquitted of conspiring to murder his ex-lover Norman Scott, played by Ben Wishaw.
A Very English Scandal is based on the bestselling book by the author and former Arts Editor of the Evening Standard and Sunday Telegraph John Preston.
A Very English Scandal tells the shocking true story of the first British politician to stand trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder. It is the late 1960s, homosexuality has only just been decriminalised, and Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal party and the youngest leader of any British political party in a hundred years, has a secret he’s desperate to hide. As long as his ex-lover Norman Scott is around, Thorpe’s brilliant career is at risk. Thorpe schemes and deceives – until he can see only one way to silence Scott for good. The trial of Jeremy Thorpe changed society forever, illuminating the darkest secrets of the Establishment. The Thorpe affair revealed such breath-taking deceit and corruption that, at the time, hardly anyone dared believe it could be true.
Written by the BAFTA award-winning writer of Doctor Who Russell T Davies and directed by Academy Award nominee and BAFTA winner Stephen Frears, the three-part drama is executive produced by Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin for Blueprint Television and Lucy Richer for the BBC.
Grant is best known for his roles in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary and About A Boy. Grant made his big screen debut in Privileged by director Michael Hoffman but his breakthrough came with the leading role as Charles in Four Weddings And A Funeral opposite Andie MacDowell, for which he won a Golden Globe Award and Bafta Film Award for Best Actor. Grant recently starred in the critically-acclaimed Florence Foster Jenkins, directed by Stephen Frears, for which the actor earned Golden Globe, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild nominations.
Whishaw is BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning actor, known for his acclaimed Hamlet for Trevor Nunn, Danny Holt in BBC Two’s London Spy, Freddie Lyon in BBC Two’s The Hour and as Q in the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre. He has starred in numerous other feature films including Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, I’m Not There, Bright Star, Brideshead Revisited, Cloud Atlas, The Lobster, Suffragette, and The Danish Girl.
The drama has been commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content.
Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said, ‘Hugh is one our most iconic British actors – sharp, witty, deeply human and nuanced – and to have him play one of the most controversial figures of British politics is utterly thrilling. With Russell T Davies writing and Stephen Frears directing, A Very English Scandal unites the highest level of talent to bring this extraordinary true story to life.’
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, added, ‘Ben Whishaw is an extraordinary actor and we are thrilled to announce he will star opposite Hugh Grant in this scandalous real-life story for BBC One. I cannot wait to see this first-class British duo bring Russell’s powerful scripts to life.’
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