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Hugh Grant Returns to British TV for First Time in Nearly 25 Years

Variety logo Variety 5/22/2017 Robert Mitchell
© Provided by Variety

Hugh Grant is set to play a disgraced British politician in true-story drama “A Very English Scandal,” the BBC said Monday. The project will reunite Grant with director Stephen Frears following the actor’s acclaimed performance in last year’s “Florence Foster Jenkins,” which earned him Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for best supporting actor.

In “A Very English Scandal,” Grant will play Jeremy Thorpe, the first British politician in modern times to stand trial for murder. 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 his ex-lover, Norman Scott. The film is based on a book by British journalist John Preston.

The three-part drama for flagship channel BBC One 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 Changeling” aired in December 1993. Grant will next be seen on the big screen in the “Paddington” sequel set for release later this year.

“Hugh is one of our most iconic British actors – sharp, witty, deeply human and nuanced – and to have him play one of the most controversial figures of British politics is utterly thrilling,” said executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins of Blueprint Television. “With Russell T. Davies writing and Stephen Frears directing, ‘A Very English Scandal’ unites the highest level of talent to bring this extraordinary true story to life.”

The show marks the first production from Sony-backed Blueprint Television, which launched last June. Blueprint Television is the TV arm of Blueprint Pictures, the producers of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

“A Very English Scandal” is written by Davies, who created the modern iteration of “Doctor Who” in 2005 and more recently created dramas “Cucumber” and “Banana,” for Channel 4 and E4, respectively.

Treadwell-Collins, Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin will serve as executive producers for Blueprint alongside Lucy Richer for the BBC. The project, and Frears and Davies’ involvement, was originally announced May 4.

Davies said at the time: “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.”

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