A Very English Scandal trailer: Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw caught in a gay affair

The BBC has released its trailer for A Very English Scandal, a historical drama about an illicit gay affair involving the former leader of the Liberal party, Jeremy Thorpe.

The three-part miniseries chronicles a scandal that gripped Britain in the 1970s.

Hugh Grant plays Thorpe. Ben Whishaw takes on the role of Norman Scott, with whom Thorpe had an affair in the 1960s when homosexuality was illegal.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggDTJc470Co]

The drama, directed by BAFTA award winner Stephen Frears, centres on the trial that ensued after Thorpe was accused of trying to have his one-time lover killed in order to protect his reputation.

Their affair threatened to end Thorpe’s career, and Scott alleged that Thorpe had sought to silence him.

Related: First look at Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw as real-life secret gay lovers in new TV drama

Thorpe was eventually acquitted – although Scott stands by his claims to this day – but the scandal dramatically altered the political fortunes of a rising star who had become an MP aged 30 and led the Liberals before he turned 40. He died in 2014.

If the trailer is anything to go by, the drama promises to address the issues such as homophobia which still existed at the time.

Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe and Ben Whishaw as Norman Scott

(Blueprint Television Ltd/Kieron McCarron)

In one clip, Whishaw’s Scott bounds down a staircase following a hearing at the Old Bailey and proudly declares: “I was rude, I was vile, I was queer, I was myself.”

Related: Ben Whishaw says keeping sexuality secret only had a negative effect

Russell T. Davies, best known for reviving Doctor Who in the 2000s, wrote the show for television based on a book by John Preston.

He said: “I was always drawn to this story. I was a teenager when it all kicked off and it was the first time I had ever heard the word homosexual on the news – or anywhere probably.

“There was a big gay story when I was a young lad, which was rare, so I had always had it in mind.”

The first episode of the drama is expected to air later this month.