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A Very English Scandal 

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British Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe is accused of conspiracy to murder his gay ex-lover and forced to stand trial in 1979.
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Ben Whishaw Compares Hugh Grant to Marlon Brando

Golden Globe-winner Ben Whishaw praises Hugh Grant's performance in "A Very English Scandal," plus he reveals his motivation to portray his character, Norman Scott, as a hero.

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
Hugh Grant ...  Jeremy Thorpe 3 episodes, 2018
Ben Whishaw ...  Norman Scott 3 episodes, 2018
Alex Jennings ...  Peter Bessell 3 episodes, 2018
Patricia Hodge ...  Ursula Thorpe 3 episodes, 2018
Paul Hilton Paul Hilton ...  David Holmes 2 episodes, 2018
Naomi Battrick ...  Diana Stainton 2 episodes, 2018
Andrew French Andrew French ...  Sergeant at Arms 2 episodes, 2018
Morgan Watkins ...  Mike Steele 2 episodes, 2018
Monica Dolan ...  Marion Thorpe 2 episodes, 2018
Jason Watkins ...  Emlyn Hooson 2 episodes, 2018
Blake Harrison ...  Andrew 'Gino' Newton 2 episodes, 2018
Alice Orr-Ewing ...  Caroline Allpass 2 episodes, 2018
Flora Montgomery ...  Diane Kelly 2 episodes, 2018
Michele Dotrice ...  Edna Friendship 2 episodes, 2018
Nick Malinowski ...  Returning Officer 2 episodes, 2018
Rhys Parry Jones ...  John Le Mesurier 2 episodes, 2018
Dyfan Dwyfor Dyfan Dwyfor ...  George Deakin 2 episodes, 2018
Caleb Roberts Caleb Roberts ...  Daniel Badwah 2 episodes, 2018
Marianne Oldham Marianne Oldham ...  Stella Levy 2 episodes, 2018
Arabella Neale ...  Jeremy's Secretary 2 episodes, 2018


What is known as the Thorpe affair, centered on the at the time clandestine homosexual affair between Liberal MP and later Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe and stable boy Norman Scott, that affair when sodomy was still illegal in Britain, is the main feature of the story presented. The story culminates in 1979 with Jeremy put on trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder, the attempt on Norman's life all in an effort to rid him from Jeremy's life in his aspiration to become British Prime Minister at whatever cost, part of that cost being to remain in the closet despite having men on the side throughout his adult life. The imbalance between Jeremy and Norman both during their relationship and in their adversarial battle after the end of that relationship is also shown, older, ambitious Jeremy, from a proper English background, part of the establishment, and younger Norman, from the disadvantaged class, he who also suffered from clinical psychological issues, having nothing to lose... Written by Huggo

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Release Date:

20 May 2018 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A Very English Scandal See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


Hugh Grant has said that eighty percent of his performance was hair and makeup, referring to the transformative work of hair and makeup designer Daniel Phillips. Grant had worked with Phillips previously on the film Florence Foster Jenkins (2016). To achieve Jeremy Thorpe's signature gaunt appearance, Grant actively lost weight through months of intense outdoor cycling. The rest of his physical transformation into Thorpe he credits to the use of brown contact lenses, Phillips' hair and makeup design, and to the costumes of designer Suzanne Cave. See more »


Featured in 76th Golden Globe Awards (2019) See more »

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User Reviews

Norm fought the law...guess who won?
3 June 2018 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

I do hope that viewers of this three part BBC dramatisation of the Jeremy Thorpe / Norman Scott affair followed the station's own prompt to immediately afterwards switch channels and watch a documentary made in 1979, ready to be shown on the expected conviction of the former Liberal Party leader Thorpe. However, on his unexpected acquittal, the programme was shelved, until now obviously when it only confirms what most people thought at the time, that Thorpe was as guilty as at least two of his also now deceased party colleagues, Cyril Smith and Clement Freud, about whom as we're al! aware, post death revelations of their heinous personal conduct have also come to light. It's no coincidence that both are name-checked in this programme which perhaps saw the BBC forty years later right its own wrong in not airing, even in an edited form, the original accusatory Panorama expose back then.

The mini series itself made for riveting viewing most of the way through and was certainly helped in its attempts at veracity by casting actors in almost every part with a resemblance to their real life counterparts. The big coup was getting Hugh Grant to play the Thorpe part and he does a good job of capturing the smarmy, superior air of a man of power and with sufficient clout with the Establishment to cover his own dirty tricks and tracks. I was less convinced by Ben Whishaw's portrayal of Norman Scott as a mostly weak, simpering, attention seeking blackmailer when while not without faults, the real life Scott, still alive and seeking justice, just doesn't fit that particular profile (as anyone watching the Panorama show could attest).

Clearly Thorpe thought himself above the law and with friends in high places somehow escaped prosecution. This is never more obvious than when we witness the presiding judge's wholly partial summing up, accurately and wickedly parodied by the brilliant Peter Cook only days later (a clip is thoughtfully included over the end credits). I would take issue with some of the tone of the writing and direction of the piece which seemed at times too light and comical in its depiction of certainly sinister events. I understand that Scott himself is unhappy with how both himself and the actual events are portrayed.

Nevertheless, like I said, it was gripping viewing throughout especially for those of us able to remember the original trial and at least and at last puts the record straight (no pun intended) on an almost certain miscarriage of justice.

As the old saying has it, it's the rich wot get the pleasure and the poor wot get the blame. Or to quote Talking Heads "same as it ever was".

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