Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, About a Boy) returns 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 (Skyfall, London Spy, Perfume).
Based on the bestselling book by 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.
Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw will be joined by Alex Jennings (The Queen, Victoria), Patricia Hodge (Miranda, Maxwell), Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult, Strike), Adrian Scarborough (On Chesil Beach, The King’s Speech) and Jason Watkins (The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies, W1A), with Eve Myles (Torchwood, Victoria), Michele Dotrice (Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Starfish) and Blake Harrison (Trust Me, The Inbetweeners). Further cast includes Fisayo Akinade, David Bamber, Patrick Barlow, Lucy Briggs-Owen, Paul Hilton, Jonathan Hyde, Alice Orr-Ewing, Steffan Rhodri, Paul Freeman and Susan Wooldridge.
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.
‘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,’ said Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins.
‘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,’ added Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama.
Intrigued? Find out more about the story behind the drama here – and don’t miss the first episode of BBC One’s A Very English Scandal at 9pm on 20 May.