A very British scandal indeed.
there are programs like this crown Dominating Netflix and giving viewers a glimpse into the sordid aspects of royal life, it’s no surprise viewers are intrigued by the vagaries of other historic British scandals. Hugh Grantof a very british scandal, Released on Amazon Prime in 2018, tells the true story of Jeremy Thorpe, an aspiring young Liberal MP (Member of Parliament) who tried to hide his homosexuality from the British public in the 1960s and 70s.
When he finds his career prospects threatened by shaky ex-lover Norman Josiffe (Ben Whishaw), an increasingly ruthless Thorpe resorts to desperate measures: Hiring a hitman to kill Josieff and prevent him from revealing their affair to the insatiable British press, unsuccessfully. Both Grant and Whishaw bring humanity to their characters – from Thorpe’s devastation after the death of his unsuspecting wife Caroline (Alice Orr-Ewing), to Josiff’s festering struggles with mood swings and impulsivity — which allows us to empathize with even the most egregious of their post-breakup behaviors. Although the show delivers on the comedic side of Thorpe’s role as Josif’s seducer-turned-nemesis — and Grant is really at his best here — it’s its take on political ambition and intrigue that’s most intriguing The portrayal is very, very wrong.
Blackmail and public humiliation
Strikingly, Thorpe was willing to resort to blackmail in response to Josieff’s escalating threats, even wooing fellow MP Peter Bessel (alex jennings) to help him financially. While Thorp’s fears of professional ruin and ostracism were not unfounded, it is still hard to imagine what kind of person would have fallen into such an abyss, unless one considers the violent intersection of media and public life in 20th-century Britain. In the absence of the Internet, newspapers were society’s primary source of information and undoubtedly determined the terms of acceptable behavior in the eyes of the public.
Even if Thorpe denies Josieff’s allegations — a denial he ended up making memorable — his political and personal image will depend on how much he can control competing public narratives about his actions. Without a social media account to aid in the blatant denial of the truth, Thorpe’s efforts to shut down Josieff’s story had limited success, even though he was acquitted of the murder. The more liberal sensibilities of the 1970s didn’t really extend to homosexuality, hidden or otherwise, and the series later revealed that Thorpe never ran for office again. Society’s stigma for gay men, combined with the media’s growing appetite for tabloid-worthy stories, proved to be his career-destroyer.
Thorpe, Josieff, and the Culture Wars
While Thorpe furthered his career by keeping his sexuality a secret—even marrying a woman to boost his popularity—young Josieff, with a string of failed heterosexual relationships, refused The Silent Generation suppressed his former lover. Instead, he used the cultural upheaval of the 1960s and 70s to question the status quo that kept Thorpe constantly manipulating and descending into crime, unchecked. But his role at the center of a tabloid storm did little to protect him from personal troubles, and the trial served not as a spark for changing attitudes toward homosexuality, but rather as Thorpe’s respectable air collided with Josieff’s take on cultural and class norms. The struggle between indifference.
Ultimately, the British public chose the former, thereby affirming the rigid social hierarchy that allowed people like Thorpe to thrive regardless of their behaviour. Although his reputation has been tarnished by Josieff’s allegations, Thorpe’s acquittal is a boon for upper-class politicians who control parliament and vie for control of Downing Street. They can still get away with (attempted) murder.
although a very british scandal Clearly showing that neither Josiffe nor Thorpe really got a satisfying ending – after all, blackmail and conspiracy to murder aren’t usually a recipe for happiness or success – it does present a very interesting spin on the politics of power and ambition in the public sphere Josiffe’s misadventures, and Thorpe’s clumsy attempts at intrigue, paint an unflinching portrait of a society so obsessed with fame and status that it is undermined in the process.