A Very English Scandal is returning to our screens, but without Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw or even its writer Russell T Davies.
The change in personnel isn’t down to a lack of success: the three-part drama was nominated for three Golden Globes, and even bagged one, plus a Critics Choice Award for Whishaw’s portrayal of Norman Scott, a young man who threatened to make life very hard for his ex-lover and politician Jeremy Thorpe (Grant).
It’s because the series is being turned into an anthology show, in the vein of American Crime Story, which dramatizes famous criminal cases like the O.J. Simpson trial or murder of Gianni Versace, or Delhi Crime, which has just been picked up by Netflix.
A Very English Scandal is — as the title suggests — quintessentially British. Gone are the celebrity cameos of L.A., the glamor of Miami, or the shadowy streets of Delhi, replaced instead by 1960s London, a stiff upper lip, and energetic, often brutal, humor.
The new season will follow another well-known English scandal from the 1960s, when Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll, went through a public and very messy divorce from her second husband, and was dubbed the “Dirty Duchess” by British newspapers.
“[Her husband] went through her private desk and found a list of all the men she’d slept with,” producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins told the Radio Times. He also found compromising photos of his wife wearing nothing but pearls with a man whose face was not in the pictures.
“At the time, the news was in all the papers,” Treadwell-Collins continued. “People thought it could have been a member of the royal family or the government or a Hollywood actor. No one still knows who it was.”
Perhaps there is scope for some Hollywood glitz after all. Treadwell-Collins also revealed how “three actresses have asked to play the role” of the Duchess, which he says is “an amazing part” for an actress in her late 40s or early 50s.
The new season won’t feature the writing talent of one Russell T Davies, though he may return for subsequent seasons. It’s believed Sarah Phelps, the writer behind recent Agatha Christie adaptations And Then There Were None and The ABC Murders, will pen the next season.
“For a feminist scandal, I need a female writer,” Treadwell-Collins explained.
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