Channel 4 has given the green-light to National Treasure, a four-part drama inspired by Operation Yewtree which tells the story of a famed comedian whose life is turned upside down when he is arrested for committing a rape back in the 1970s.
National Treasure follows Paul Finchley, a famous comedian, who, though not quite as successful as he once, was, is still a familiar face in the TV schedules and regarded as a national treasure. His life is turned upside down one day when he is accused of a rape from the 1970s. As the investigation and criminal trial work their way towards a verdict, memories that have become muddied in the intervening four decades are dredged, doubts flourish, loyalties are tested, and truths, half-truths and lies are all exposed.
The four-parter was commissioned by Channel 4’s Head of Drama Piers Wenger, Deputy Head of Drama Beth Willis & Commissioning Editor Roberto Troni. It hails from noted scribe Jack Thorne – who was behind such efforts as Glue, The Fades and This Is England – and is set up at recently launched production company The Forge. The executive producers are George Ormond and George Faber. Casting for the National Treasure is currently underway, with production set to commence early next year.
“What I’ve always loved about Channel 4 is that it’s a place to discuss big ideas. National Treasure is a piece about doubt, about the smell of abuse, about how we as a society live in Yewtree times”, said Jack Thorne. “Paul is a man who could be innocent or guilty. We’re going to examine him from all sides and ask that big question – how well do we know the people closest to us?”
“In recent years we’ve been bombarded with revelations about the historic sex offences of people in the public eye and the lives that they’ve destroyed”, commented executive producer George Faber. “This fictional drama explores the emotional impact on both a family that finds itself in the eye of such a media story, and on the accuser – and tackles the complex relationship between celebrity, sex and power.”
While Piers Wenger, Channel 4’s Head of Drama, added: “National Treasure is a powerful drama that goes beyond recent headlines, exploring the human and emotional impact when a whole life is called into question. In Jack’s hands it’s an insightful and thought-provoking exploration of memory, truth, age, doubt, and how well we really know ourselves and those closest to us. This, coupled with its evident topicality, makes it a perfect addition to the Channel 4 drama slate.”