A Very English Scandal (TV series)

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A Very English Scandal
A Very English Scandal.png
Promotional poster
Based onA Very English Scandal
by John Preston
Written byRussell T Davies
Directed byStephen Frears
Composer(s)Murray Gold
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes3
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Dan Winch
Running time56 minutes
Production company(s)Sony Pictures Television, Blueprint Pictures
Original networkBBC One
Picture format2:1 1080p
Audio formatStereo
Original release20 May (2018-05-20) – 3 June 2018 (2018-06-03)
External links
Official website

A Very English Scandal is a fact-based three-part British television miniseries based on John Preston's book of the same name.[1][2] The series premiered on BBC One on 20 May 2018 and on Amazon Prime on 29 June 2018.[3] It is a dramatization of the 1976–1979 Jeremy Thorpe scandal, and the 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 young 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 problematic. When Thorpe grew tired of Norman and insisted that he leave the housing he 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, on the other hand, has become more unstable. Now 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 abuses 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 passing. 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 postponed multiple times.

Thorpe next marries Marion Stein, Countess of Harewood in 1973 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 succeeding in 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 Jeremy Thorpe scandal. 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 preemptively publish the two 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 Carmen, a merciless lawyer, to defend him. In May 1979, the trial gets underway 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 strongly biased, and sides heavily 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 holds another public office again. He and Marion remain married until her death in March 2014. Thorpe dies nine months later. Bessell remains in the United States until his death in 1985. Norman is still alive, owns 11 dogs and still doesn't 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.[4]

The miniseries comprises three 56-minute episodes.


The series premiered on BBC One on 20 May 2018 and on Amazon Prime on 29 June 2018.[3] The DVD was released on 2 July 2018.[5]


Critical response[edit]

The miniseries has received very positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 95% based on 41 reviews, with an average rating of 9.05/10.[6] The site summarized the critics' consensus as "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".[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2019 76th Golden Globe Awards Best Miniseries or Television Film
A Very English Scandal
Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Hugh Grant
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Ben Whishaw
9th Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Movie/Miniseries
A Very English Scandal
Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries
Hugh Grant
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries
Ben Whishaw
23rd Satellite Awards Best Miniseries or Television Film
A Very English Scandal
Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Hugh Grant
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Ben Whishaw
25th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Hugh Grant


  1. ^ Mitchell, Robert (22 May 2017). "Hugh Grant Returns to British TV for First Time in Nearly 25 Years". Variety.
  2. ^ "A Very English Scandal". BBC Media Centre. BBC. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b Lowry, Brian (29 June 2018). "Hugh Grant delivers in Amazon's brilliant 'A Very English Scandal'". CNN.
  4. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (21 May 2017). "Hugh Grant To Star In Stephen Frears' 'A Very English Scandal' For BBC One". Deadline.com.
  5. ^ https://blazingminds.co.uk/english-scandal-dvd-release-news/
  6. ^ https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/a_very_english_scandal/s01/
  7. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/tv/a-very-english-scandal

External links[edit]