Whishaw will star as Norman Scott, the ex-lover of disgraced British politician Jeremy Thorpe, played by Grant. In 1979, Thorpe, then leader of the Liberal party and the youngest leader of any British political party in a hundred years, was accused of conspiring to murder Scott. He was the first British politician in modern times to stand trial for murder.
The three-part drama is based on a book by British journalist John Preston and written by Davies, who created the modern iteration of “Doctor Who” in 2005 and has more recently created gay dramas “Cucumber” and “Banana,” for Channel 4 and E4, respectively. It will be directed by Stephen Frears, whose latest film, “Victoria & Abdul,” starring Judi Dench, sees its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 3.
Whishaw is no stranger to BBC drama. He won an International Emmy and was BAFTA-nominated for his role in the broadcaster’s “Criminal Justice” in 2008, and won a BAFTA in 2013 for playing Richard III in the BBC’s “The Hollow Crown.” Last year he was BAFTA nominated again for his lead role in 2015 spy drama “London Spy.” He most recently appeared in the BBC’s “Queers” (pictured), a series of one-off monologues for BBC Four, curated and directed by “Sherlock” co-creator Mark Gatiss, to mark the 50th anniversary this year of the U.K.’s landmark Sexual Offenses Act, which partially de-criminalized homosexual acts between men.
“A Very English Scandal” marks Grant’s return to British television for the first time in nearly 25 years, when he starred in “The Changeling,” an episode of the BBC’s anthology drama series “Performance,” opposite Elizabeth McGovern and Bob Hoskins.
The drama is the first production from the Sony-backed Blueprint Television, the sister company of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” production company Blueprint Pictures, which launched in June 2016. It will be executive produced by Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin for Blueprint alongside Lucy Richer for the BBC. It is produced by Dan Winch. It was commissioned in May with Frears, Davies and Grant’s involvement announced at the time.
Whishaw is repped by Christian Hoddell at Hamilton Hodell and Hylda Queally at CAA.