The story of the downfall of Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe is coming to the BBC. The corporation’s flagship channel BBC One has given the green-light to A Very English Scandal, a three-part drama based on the book of the same name by John Preston which tells the true story of the Thorpe Affair.
A Very English Scandal is set in the late 1960s when 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 three-part drama will tell the shocking true story of the first British politician to stand trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder. 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.
In his first role in a British television production in more than two decades, Hugh Grant (Four Weddings And A Funeral, About A Boy) has signed on to play the late Liberal leader. “Hugh Grant is an extraordinary actor and a worldwide star”, said the BBC’s Controller Of Drama Piers Wenger, who commissioned A Very English Scandal alongside the BBC’s Director Of Content Charlotte Moore. “I’m delighted that he is joining the BBC One family and I can’t wait to see how he applies his unique talent bringing to life this mercurial role.”
Doctor Who and Queer As Folk scribe Russell T. Davies penned the scripts for the three-parter, which is set up at the nascent Sony backed indie Blueprint Television. The Queen helmer Stephen Frears is attached to direct, while Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and the BBC’s Lucy Richer will executive produce. “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”, Collins said in a statement. “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.”