Hugh Grant has been cast in BBC1 drama A Very English Scandal as former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe, who was sensationally accused of conspiring to murder his gay lover in the 1970s...

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Hugh Grant is set to make a comeback to British television screens for the first time since the early 1990s by starring in new BBC1 drama A Very English Scandal.

The Hollywood star will be playing the disgraced MP and Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, who in 1979 was tried but acquitted of conspiring to murder his ex-lover Norman Scott. The three-part drama is based on the book by John Preston, has been written by Russell T Davies and directed by Stephen Frears, while former EastEnders boss Dominic Treadwell-Collins, now of Blueprint Television, is executive producer.

Dominic, who’s also executive producer of Kat & Alfie: Redwater, said: “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.”

Controller of BBC drama, Piers Wenger, said: “Hugh Grant is an extraordinary actor and a worldwide star. I’m delighted that he is joining the BBC One family and I can’t wait to see how he applies his unique talent bringing to life this mercurial role.”

A Very English Scandal tells the shocking true story of the first British politician to stand trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder. In the late 1960s, homosexuality has only just been decriminalised, and Jeremy 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 Norman 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.

Politics - Jeremy Thorpe - Liberal Party HQ, London

Jeremy Thorpe in 1967 (PA)

 

It’s alleged that Jeremy Thorpe conspired with a fellow MP Peter Bessell and other dodgy individuals to hire an assassin to kill Norman Scott in 1975, but the plan went wrong when Norman’s dog Rinka was shot instead. As the police became involved attention turned to Thorpe’s involvement and his past homosexual relationship with Norman. Eventually he was arrested and the ‘trial of the century’ began in 1979.

It’s yet to be announced who’ll play Norman Scott or any of the other main players in the affair. A Very English Scandal is likely to be screened next year.