A Very English Scandal ~ Episode Three

On Sunday 3 June we reached the concluding part of Russell T Davies’ A Very English Scandal, and it was a cornucopia of lies, truth and underhanded dealings. Culminating in the greatest shock of all (if you didn’t already know the outcome), that Thorpe (Hugh Grant) got away with it. He was cleared of involvement in the attempted murder of Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw) and his cronies? Similarly ditto!

Frustratingly, we see that Thorpe and his side-kicks get away with their plot to kill Scott, with a Judge who epitomises the word ‘biased’, naturally excellent representation (played by Adrian Scarborough) and stoic support from Marion (Monica Dolan), Thorpe’s second wife. Although Marion must have suspected that there was more to the story than met the eye, she certainly didn’t appear to be stupid and when a letter from Thorpe to Scott was published in a newspaper (a spin doctor move from Thorpe’s advisors) – could it truly be denied? The relationship between the two could be summed up in one ‘dangerous’ word – ‘bunnies’! Of course, Ursula Thorpe (Patricia Hodge) remains in shell-shocked denial and on her Son’s side throughout. While Scott still has the backing and friendship of the aptly named Edna Friendship (Michele Dotrice). Justice isn’t set to conquer and that becomes evident as the episode progresses.

With a consistently considered and measured performance from Grant in all three episodes, a delightfully skittish and self-absorbed portrayal from Whishaw as Scott and equally an excellent performance from Alex Jennings as Bessell, this series was one of the BBC’s most gripping dramas. If you’ve missed it, you MUST catch it on iplayer, you’ll see Hugh Grant as you’ve never seen him before. Who’d have though he would be perfect casting for this real-life role? Not I!

A Very English Scandal – Catch up on iplayer

 

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A Very English Scandal ~ Episode Two

The second instalment of one of the best dramas to grace the screens of BBC One (since Call The Midwife disappeared until Christmas) was even racier, more scandalous and has been cast so superbly it’s resonating for all the right reasons.

Jeremy Thorpe (the incomparable Hugh Grant) is still on the warpath and baying for his ex-lover, Norma Scott (Ben Whishaw) to be killed. He’s let another friend and admirer, David Holmes (Paul Hilton) in on the plan he’s in favour of and he’s very clear on the way in which it should be carried out. Peter Bessell (Alex Jennings) isn’t at all keen on the idea and feels that he’s found a perfect get-out clause when it’s brought to his attention that Norman has fathered a child and he’s getting married. It’s a short-lived marriage though and not long before Scott finds himself in the arms of flaky ‘neighbour’ Gwen Parry-Jones (Eve Myles) who sets her sights on helping Scott to frame Thorpe for his misdemeanours. However, first there’s the tragedy of the sudden death of Mrs Thorpe in a car accident to deal with. Followed by Thorpe’s calculated second marriage to Marion (Monica Dolan) which is another shrewd politically motivated move.

I was delighted by the arrival of a new friend for Scott, aptly named Edna Friendship (Michele Dotrice), a character to be reckoned with, who offers bed, board and job to the vagrant when he arrives back in Devon. Too close to home for Thorpe who continues his quest to have his ex murdered. The assailant is selected and not entirely confident with his task, Andrew ‘Gino’ Newton (played by Blake Harrison of The Inbetweeners fame) is not the right man for the job at all, in fact.

The performances continue to be outstanding, it’s got more twists, turns and dark corners than the streets of London and it never ceases to amaze me what Thorpe will stoop to next. The mere idea of even a portion of this ‘story’ being factual adds a whole new dimension and must-watch factor to the series.

Catch up on episode two here: A Very English Scandal Episode Two

Episode Three airs on BBC One on Sunday 3 June at 9pm 

 

Photo Credits: BBC Pictures

A Very English Scandal ~ Episode One

Premise

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

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