1965 in the dining room of the British House of Commons. The dishes clatter softly, liveried employees silently give red wine, muted invariably entertain gentlemen in dignified tweeds about undoubtedly state winners. Two of them have a special topic of conversation: they confess to each other that they once loved men. "Shocking!" Says one. "I do not think such a thing was ever said between these walls."
No, the British mini-series "A Very English Scandal" is not about the Brexit. It's about another, equally epic, epic affair in which one of the two men, the Hugh Grant-chairwoman of the Liberal Party, was implicated in his secret homosexuality.
Nothing is invented, everything actually happens. And yet the trilogy becomes a sharp satire. She picks out a political caste that displays its class consciousness as an ancient right and hides its bigotry under ancient rituals. Always fine ironic, of course.
Series "A Very English Scandal":
After a true case
In this respect, the series is as basic as its title announces: It prepares a theater stage for the very Englishness, which makes the wretched Brexit tragedy so entertaining in such a miserable way. Because bizarre parliamentary ceremonies inflate the unworthy scramble to spectacle. Because the nap of Jacob Rees-Mogg, that nasal revenant of a fifties snob, could become iconic only in a semantic space filled with cultural codes.
Significant is also the mimic mask that Hugh Grant has acquired for this – his best – role. One has to remember that this is the actor who used to play the clumsy, simply insanely cute chap in romantic comedies; even a fictional prime minister (in "Actually … love"), whose charm made even political pop star Tony Blair look like a stock-hard technocrats. That Grant but quite political profile, he proved with a snappy tweet in the direction of Boris Johnson.
"I'll kiss you now and you'll enjoy it"
In "A Very English Scandal", this Hugh Grant, as Liberal Party boss Jeremy Thorpe, now has a proverbial stiff upper lip on his face that is second to none. The man speaks almost exclusively with the lower lip, almost like a Muppets doll. His eyes sparkle and betray feelings, otherwise his face remains barren. Even as he says to the much younger stable-boy Norman Scott (Ben Wishaw), "I'll kiss you now, and you'll enjoy it."
The first episode of the BBC production deals with the affair that emerged from this clumsy approach, the episodes Two and Three with the consequences that drag on for years: The ever new blackmail attempts on the part of Norman, who feels betrayed and pushed away , are always new attempts Thorpe, wegzuckucken, just to make no direct connection between him and Norman detectable. Finally, he begins in exasperation and cold-blooded to draft a murder plot.
Watch exclusively the first episode of "A Very English Scandal" before the TV premiere:
One day, Jeremy Thorpe gives a pompous speech in Parliament condemning arms deliveries to Nigeria, and in the next scene he asks himself and his assistant the question: where to go with the body of the murdered man? This is black satire in the best British tradition, especially since the non-British spectator swiftly swears that the amateur murder plans can only end in the worst confusion.
The British know the outcome of the story anyway, the Thorpe affair has dug deep into the consciousness of English society. Perhaps because in the subsequent litigation, which shows the third episode, the political establishment stood with pants down. In public, because due to a procedural error, the press was allowed to report every detail from the courtroom – and she did so with great dedication.
By the way, in "A Very English Scandal" by director Stephen Frears ("The Queen"), English society's dealings with homosexuality, which in the 1970s, at the time of the trial, are no longer prohibited by law, but still are was heavily taboo.
But superimposed on this narrative of a struggle of the leading class for power and influence. Thorpe championed liberal political views, in one scene he is shown as a passionate fighter for British EU membership. But his free spirit ended where his privileges were threatened. He stands as an example as a protagonist for an elite who does not hesitate to defend their position to the death.
"A Very English Scandal" will be on the Sony Channel at 8:15 pm on September 19th (available through Vodafone, Unitymedia, Amazon Prime Video Channels, among others).