EXCLUSIVE: The recently announced BBC One drama, A Very English Scandal, is based on the true story of the first British politician to stand trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder. Hugh Grant has now been set to return to British television for the first time since the early ’90s as the disgraced center of the tale, MP Jeremy Thorpe. In 1979, Thorpe was tried, but acquitted, of conspiring to murder his ex-lover, Norman Scott. It nevertheless ended his political career.
The three-part drama is directed by Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner Stephen Frears and written by BAFTA winner Russel T Davies. Executive producers are Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin for Blueprint Television and Lucy Richer for the BBC. The mini was commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content.
A Very English Scandal‘s logline reads that it begins in the late ’60s when homosexuality has only just been decriminalized, and 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 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 Thorpe changed society forever, illuminating the darkest secrets of the establishment. The Thorpe affair revealed such breathtaking deceit and corruption that, at the time, hardly anyone dared believe it could be true.”
Treadwell-Collins says, “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.”
Grant recently teamed with Frears on Florence Foster Jenkins, for which he earned Golden Globe, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild nominations. He is repped by CAA.
This will be the first production from Sony-backed Blueprint Television, which launched last June. Headed by former Eastenders executive producer Treadwell-Collins, Blueprint is sister company to Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin’s Blueprint Pictures, which produced The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the upcoming Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, directed by Martin McDonagh and starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.