EDINBURGH — U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 hopes to boost its credentials for challenging drama with a new show that fictionalizes sexual abuse in showbiz.
“National Treasure,” announced at the Edinburgh Television Festival by Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt, is a four-part series examining accusations of sexual misconduct against a fictional aging TV celeb.
It is written by the BAFTA and Royal Television Society-award winning playwright Jack Thorne, and executive produced by long-standing U.K. drama producer George Faber.
Story focuses on the fictional Paul Finchley, one half of a much-loved comedy double act, a national treasure despite Finchley’s career being on the wane. One day his world changes forever when he is accused of raping a woman in the 1970s.
Said Thorne: “‘National Treasure’ is a piece about doubt, about the smell of abuse… Paul is a man who could be innocent or guilty. We’re going to examine him from all sides and ask that big question — how well do we know the people closest to us?”
Faber added: “In recent years we’ve been bombarded with revelations about the historic sex offences of people in the public eye and the lives that they’ve destroyed. This fictional drama explores the emotional impact on both a family that finds itself in the eye of such a media story, and on the accuser — and tackles the complex relationship between celebrity, sex and power.”
Ever since the late BBC celebrity Jimmy Savile was exposed as a multiple sex criminal, cases of historic sexual abuse by TV celebrities have been high in Britain’s public consciousness. This is believed to be the first time the subject has been turned into a TV drama.
Casting is yet to be announced but Channel 4 said “National Treasure” would air domestically sometime next year.
The show will be helmed by Marc Munden, winner of an International Emmy for another Channel 4 drama, “Utopia.”
“National Treasure” is being produced by shingle The Forge, set up last year by Faber with backing from All3Media, jointly owned by Discovery and Liberty.