British Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe is accused of conspiracy to murder his gay ex-lover and is forced to stand trial in 1979.
Hugh Grant plays the role of Thorpe, a closet homosexual who pursued Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw), giving him a roof and keeping him for his own amusement. It’s a wholly different role for Grant and he is an inspired choice. Opposite Whishaw the chemistry was believable and intrigued me from the outset. Thorpe is soliciting the aid of Peter Bessell (Alex Jennings) to ensure Scott’s silence about their relationship when he calls time on their affair. To further his political career and assist the party in currying more favour, Thorpe is plotting to marry and portray himself as a family man.
Although Scott has secured himself a modelling job, he’s not going to keep quiet about Thorpe ‘infecting him’, not only has he been to the police, he’s also written to Thorpe’s unwitting mother, Ursula (Patricia Hodge) revealing all. With a wife, baby and family man public image – there’s only one way to ensure the scandal fails to surface. We were left on a cliff-hanger, however if you are aware of the history (and the premise gives it away, too) there’s further scandal to come.
A cast de force overtly portray this twisting, insightful story. Given the era we’re looking at, it’s interesting to see how far we’ve come where the issue at the heart of the scandal is concerned. It’s an apt time to choose to broadcast such a dramatization.
Missed the first instalment? Catch up here: A Very English Scandal Episode One
Watch the second episode on BBC One next Sunday at 21:00
Photo Credits: BBC Pictures