|A Very English Scandal|
|Based on|| A Very English Scandal |
by John Preston
|Written by||Russell T Davies|
|Directed by||Stephen Frears|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||3|
|Editor(s)||Pia Di Ciaula|
|Running time||56 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Blueprint Pictures|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Picture format||2:1 1080p|
|Original release||20 May –|
3 June 2018
A Very English Scandal is a three-part British television comedy-drama miniseries based on John Preston's book of the same name.The series premiered on BBC One on 20 May 2018 and on Amazon Prime on 29 June 2018. It is a dramatisation of the 1976–1979 Jeremy Thorpe scandal and more than 15 years of events leading up to it.
In 1965, Jeremy Thorpe, a Liberal Member of Parliament, must contend with disgruntled ex-lover Norman Josiffe, whom he met in 1961 and had a relationship with for several years. Thorpe had met Norman when the latter was a 21-year-old stable boy in Oxfordshire and wrote many letters to him, which Norman kept. Norman, who could never quite hold down a job, particularly not after having lost his National Insurance card, was unstable and had a penchant for drama and self-expression, both of which proved increasingly hard to deal with. When Thorpe grew tired of Norman and insisted that he leave the house he had arranged and paid for in London, the young man began to make threats. Thorpe fears exposure and the end of his political career. His fellow Liberal MP, Peter Bessell, keeps Norman silent for the time being with small amounts of money. Norman also requests a new National Insurance card from Thorpe but his request is denied since it would link Thorpe to Norman.
By 1968, Thorpe has been elected as the Leader of the Liberal Party and is the youngest man to lead the party in a century. He marries naive young Caroline Allpass and they have a baby boy. Norman has become more unstable; going by the name Norman Scott, although he gets on well with horses and dogs, he fails to keep a job or relationship, drinks too much and uses drugs. He calls Caroline and tells her about his past romance with her husband. She is stunned by this revelation.
Caroline dies in 1970, after swerving into on-coming traffic; Thorpe mourns her death. Bessell moves to the United States to escape his financial troubles. Norman continues trying to get a new National Insurance card and have his story be heard but with no success. Thorpe considers having him killed but the plans are repeatedly postponed.
In 1973, Thorpe marries Marion Stein, Countess of Harewood and continues to climb the political ladder. Unfortunately, Thorpe encounters Norman by chance, panics and tells David Holmes (an old friend from Oxford) to arrange for Norman's murder. Andrew Newton is hired for £10,000. He tries and fails spectacularly, only killing Norman's dog. Norman immediately reports the crime to the police and is convinced it was ordered by Thorpe.
This results in the 1976–1979 Thorpe affair; Newton is put on trial and convicted of attempting to do harm to Norman. Soon afterwards, Norman requests from the police two letters from Thorpe he had given them in the 1960s. Thorpe decides to forestall Norman by publishing the letters himself with his own version of events and resigns as Leader of the Liberal Party in May 1976. He runs for re-election to Parliament but loses his North Devon seat to Anthony Speller of the Conservatives.
Thorpe, Holmes and two other accused co-conspirators are put on trial for conspiring to murder Norman. Thorpe hires George Carman, a combative lawyer, to defend him. In May 1979, the trial begins and the media reports its every detail. Norman testifies, explaining that what he mainly wants is his National Insurance card and to have his story acknowledged. Chief Justice Cantley is flagrantly biased and sides with Thorpe in his instructions to the jury, which finds Thorpe and his co-conspirators not guilty.
The end credits of the miniseries note that Thorpe never held another public office. He and Marion remained married until her death in March 2014 and Thorpe died nine months later. Bessell remained in the United States until his death in 1985. Norman is still alive, owns 11 dogs and still does not have a National Insurance card.
The series was written by Russell T Davies and directed by Stephen Frears, with Hugh Grant starring as Thorpe and Ben Whishaw as Scott. The BBC television drama was first announced on 4 May 2017, with Grant already cast as Thorpe.Ben Whishaw was announced to join the cast in August, and the rest of the cast was announced in October. Along with the further casting announcement, Amazon took the U.S rights for the show. The miniseries comprises three 56-minute episodes.
Filming took place in London, Manchester, Buckinghamshire, Devon, Hertfordshire and South Wales.Although scenes were filmed outside the Houses of Parliament, the inner courts, interior hallways and staircase were represented by Manchester Town Hall, which is built in the same Gothic Revival style as the Palace of Westminster. The offices of Thorpe and other MPs were created at Bulstrode Park, a vacant country house in Buckinghamshire. The grounds of Bulstrode were also used for the night time assassination attempt scene set on Exmoor.
The town of Hertford was used as a stand-in for 1970s Barnstaple, while Saunton Sands in North Devon stood in for the California beach where Peter Bessell (Alex Jennings) lives in a seaside shack.Bridgend in South Wales stood in for Dublin, while Norman's period living in Wales was filmed in and around Monknash. The show was able to film in the lobby and exterior of the Old Bailey in London, where the show's climactic scenes take place. A Very English Scandal was the first production ever to be granted permission to film in Court One of the Old Bailey but they had to decline because of tight time restrictions and filmed the court scenes at a courthouse in Kingston upon Thames.
The series premiered on BBC One on 20 May 2018 and on Amazon Prime on 29 June 2018.The DVD was released on 2 July 2018.
The miniseries received very positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 97% based on 64 reviews, with an average rating of 9.05/10. Rotten Tomatoes's critical consensus reads, "Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw impress in A Very English Scandal, an equally absorbing and appalling look at British politics and society".Metacritic gives the miniseries a weighted average rating of 84 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". In 2019, the series was ranked 76th on The Guardian's list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century.
The real Norman Scott spoke out about the show's characterisation of him and its portrayal of his life. He told the Irish News that "Artistic license is fine but this isn't my story. And there's nothing funny about someone trying to kill you...I'm portrayed as this poor, mincing, little gay person ... I also come across as a weakling and I've never been a weakling".
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor - Limited Series||Hugh Grant||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actor - Limited Series||Ben Whishaw||Won|
|Outstanding Directing - Limited Series||Stephen Frears||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing - Limited Series||Russell T. Davies||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Miniseries or Television Film||A Very English Scandal||Nominated|
|Best Actor – Miniseries or TV Movie||Hugh Grant||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Ben Whishaw||Won|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries||Hugh Grant||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Movie/Miniseries||A Very English Scandal||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries||Hugh Grant||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries||Ben Whishaw||Won|
|British Academy Television Awards||Best Mini-series||A Very English Scandal||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Leading Role||Hugh Grant||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Ben Whishaw||Won|
|Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Monica Dolan||Nominated|
|British Academy Television Craft Awards||Costume Design||Suzanne Cave||Won|
|Director: Fiction||Stephen Frears||Won|
|Editing: Fiction||Pia Di Ciaula||Won|
|Makeup & Hair Design||Daniel Phillips||Nominated|
|Original Music||Murray Gold||Nominated|
|Production Design||Helen Scott||Nominated|
|Sound: Fiction||Sound Team||Nominated|
|Writer: Drama||Russell T. Davies||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Miniseries||A Very English Scandal||Nominated|
|Best Actor – Miniseries||Hugh Grant||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor – Miniseries||Ben Whishaw||Nominated|
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John Jeremy Thorpe was a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament for North Devon from 1959 to 1979, and as leader of the Liberal Party between 1967 and 1976. In May 1979 he was tried at the Old Bailey on charges of conspiracy and incitement to murder, arising from an earlier relationship with Norman Scott, a former model. Thorpe was acquitted on all charges, but the case, and the furore surrounding it, ended his political career.
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The Thorpe affair of the 1970s was a British political and sex scandal that ended the career of Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal Party and Member of Parliament (MP) for North Devon. The scandal arose from allegations by Norman Josiffe that he and Thorpe had a homosexual relationship in the early 1960s, and that Thorpe had begun a badly planned conspiracy to murder Josiffe, who was threatening to expose their affair.
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A Very English Scandal is a true crime non-fiction novel by John Preston. It was first published on 5 May 2016 by Viking Press and by Other Press in the United States. The novel details the 1970s Thorpe affair in Britain, in which former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe was tried and acquitted of conspiring to murder his alleged former lover, Norman Scott.
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