Norman Scott hits out at his ‘very unkind’ portrayal in A Very English Scandal

Norman Scott has condemned his portrayal in the BBC’s A Very English Scandal.

The English model was played by Ben Whishaw in the 2018 miniseries. Whishaw won an Emmy, Bafta, and Golden Globe for his performance.

A Very English Scandal saw Hugh Grant play former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, who was acquitted of conspiring with a hitman to kill his alleged ex-lover Scott. Homosexuality was illegal at the time.

Scott appeared on the podcast British Scandal: Jeremy Thorpe, and praised Whishaw’s performance but admitted that he was “very cross” over his portrayal in the drama.

Scott, 83, said: “Ben was being a very good actor, he had met me, he knew me, and I hoped that he would be me…

“I think it was very – I can say it because it’s what I believe – it was a black comedy. It was very unkind. But Ben played me very well.”

He continued: “But I did not walk down the stairs of the Old Bailey saying that I am gay and queer and all this sort of thing. Because it’s just not me. I’m not that sort of person.

“I scuttled away after I had given my evidence and went back down to Devon. I wasn’t there to do that. It was unkind really. I was a caricature.”

 (BBC/Blueprint Television)
(BBC/Blueprint Television)

Scott went on to similarly call Grant’s performance as Thorpe so “brilliant” that it “upset” him.

“It upset me actually because he looked so like him and he got his mannerisms,” he said. “And do you know what was amazing? I’m not particularly fond of Hugh Grant but I think he’s the most wonderful actor.

“He learned to play the violin for that part in the film where he played with his mother on the piano, which is amazing. Very, very clever.”

Grant was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role.

This is not the first time that Scott has criticised A Very English Scandal. He specifically took issue with its comedic tone, stating: “Artistic licence is fine but this isn’t my story. And there’s nothing funny about someone trying to kill you.”

Whishaw previously said that there was a “responsibility” in taking on the role of Scott.

“I certainly wanted to sort of do him justice in his complexity and in his variety as a human being,” he said.

“He was treated so badly by the press back in the day that the public opinion seemed to be so strongly against him. At least there was a chance to sort of set the record straight to some degree and give his side of the story perhaps.”

Whishaw added that he wanted Scott to “like it, and thankfully he does, we’re told”.

A Very English Scandal returned for a second season in 2021, under the name A Very British Scandal. Paul Bettany and Claire Foy played Ian and Margaret Campbell, respectively.

Scott’s full interview on British Scandal: Jeremy Thorpe is available to listen to from Wednesday (29 February).