On the box

Ben Whishaw re­veals what it’s like to star along­side Hugh Grant in a drama about a po­lit­i­cal scandal…

Woman's Own - - HELLO & WELCOME -

‘Nor­man is quite dam­aged’

Back in the 1970s, Jeremy Thorpe MP, the then leader of the Lib­eral Party, was ac­cused of con­spir­ing to mur­der his for­mer gay lover Nor­man Scott, which led to an in­fa­mous trial at the Old Bai­ley in 1979.

Now all the twists and turns of this bizarre story are played out in a three-part drama on BBC1. It sees Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Hugh Grant play­ing para­noid and se­cretly gay Thorpe, while Ben Whishaw is his dam­aged young lover Nor­man. Af­ter their ac­ri­mo­nious split, Nor­man threat­ened to ex­pose their af­fair to a world where ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity was firmly kept in the closet…

‘It’s de­li­ciously sav­age, bleak and ab­surd, what hap­pened,’ says Ben Whishaw, the voice of Padding­ton Bear in the re­cent hit movies. ‘Jeremy wanted Nor­man killed, but they were ob­sessed with each other for a long time.’

While re­search­ing the role, Ben ac­tu­ally met up with Nor­man Scott for a lunch. ‘He’s great, you just sort of ask him a ques­tion and that sets him off telling loads of sto­ries. He’s one of the very few peo­ple from the story who is left alive and he’s a very flirty, silly, at­trac­tive 70-some­thingyear-old. But as you’ll see in the drama back in the 1960s and 1970s, he’s quite dam­aged.’

● A Very English Scandal is on Sun­day at 9pm, BBC1

Ben Whishaw as trou­bled Nor­man Scott Hugh Grant as the debonair, se­cretly gay MP Jeremy Thorpe

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