A Very English Scandal Episode 2 continues to be a raucously funny and exquisitely-written dramatization of the Jeremy Thorpe fiasco, and if less happened this week, that hardly means it wasn’t a supremely enjoyable hour of television.
The scandal continues – and A Very English Scandal, at that. The second episode of the BBC’s three-part dramatization of the Jeremy Thorpe affair was as much of a delight as last week’s opening hour, even if very little of consequence actually happened in it beyond the shooting of a poor, innocent Great Dane by Neil from The Inbetweeners.
The focus this week alighted on Norman, who, in stark contrast to his former lover (who continued to surge in popularity during the general elections) spent the majority of A Very English Scandal Episode 2 in a series of crises. It’s difficult not to feel sorry for the poor fellow, as much of a petulant man-child as he might be. His troubled love life came to include Eve Myles as a Welsh hippy this week, with typically disastrous consequences.
He did find a firm friend in that ill-fated Great Dane, mind, which should be some consolation. And he got to knock about in flares and coif his barnet into a variety of ridiculous compositions. This was the 70s, after all. Some of the scenes felt like a Village People video shoot, as well they should.
It was at the end of the first episode that Jeremy Thorpe, still played with smug relish by Hugh Grant, decided that his lover-boy had to die. But by the end of A Very English Scandal Episode 2 Norman still isn’t dead, which left the plot in something of a holding pattern that I’m surprised it didn’t suffer from more. All credit must be directed towards writer Russell T. Davies and director Stephen Frears, who have concocted such a relentlessly enjoyable farce around the whole affair that it’s impossible to get bored of it, however many murders it may or may not include.
Besides, what else can you expect when you hire Neil from The Inbetweeners as your trigger man? Here Blake Harrison played a thoroughly useless gadabout tasked with offing poor Norman, and made a right dog’s dinner (and, indeed, death) of the whole business. After scouring the entirety of Dunstable for his target, he was told over the phone that he should have been snooping around in Barnstaple. Easy mistake.
Nevertheless, A Very English Scandal Episode 2 remained as hysterical and expertly-written as last week; a finely-crafted ensemble piece that gets right to the silliness of homosexuality being literally illegal in one of the most developed nations on Earth as recently as the 1970s, but still, thanks to Hugh Grant’s deeply knowing and considered performance, manages to reek of menace all the same. It’s a masterclass of writing and acting and mullets and moustaches.