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Stephen Frears to direct A Very English Scandal for BBC

A Very English Scandal

Story by Jack Foley

STEPHEN Frears (of Florence Foster Jenkins and Philomena fame) is to direct an adaptation of A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment for the BBC.

Based on the book by journalist John Preston, the three-part series will air on BBC1 and formed part of a wide range of new dramas unveiled by the BBC’s new drama controller Piers Wenger.

The story will follow the true story of Jeremy Thorpe, the first British politician to stand trial for conspiracy and incitement to murder.

Thorpe, the former leader of the Liberal Party, found his career in tatters following claims that he had hired someone to kill a former male lover who was threatening to reveal their relationship.

Thorpe repeatedly denied the relationship with Norman Scott, and was finally acquitted in a trial in 1979. But his political career was finished by the scandal.

In previewing the drama, a statement from the BBC read: “It is 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…

“The trial of Jeremy Thorpe changed society forever, illuminating the darkest secrets of the Establishment. The Thorpe affair revealed such breath-taking deceit and corruption that, at the time, hardly anyone dared believe it could be true.”

Former Doctor Who show-runner Russell T Davies has written the drama. He commented: “I’ve wanted to write this story for years, ever since I was 16 and saw it unfold on the news. It’s probably the first gay story I ever heard. John Preston’s brilliant book illuminates a vital and fascinating piece of British history.”

And director Frears added: “Telly’s where the good stuff is – hooray!”

Casting details will be announced shortly. But the drama is expected to air on the BBC next year (2018).

Next story: BBC commissions War of the Worlds, Little Women and Black Narcissus to series

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