The Film Office for Manchester

'A Very English Scandal’ as Manchester Town Hall doubles as 1960’s & 70’s Houses of Parliament

BBC One drama uses iconic Manchester location in the true story of British Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe (played by Hugh Grant), and his trial for conspiracy to murder his gay ex-lover in 1979.

Written by BAFTA Award winning writer, Russell T Davies, and directed by BAFTA Award winner, Stephen Frears; A Very English Scandal tells the true story of former Liberal Democrat leader, Jeremy Thorpe MP, who was the first British politician to stand trial at the Old Bailey for conspiracy to murder. Played by Hugh Grant (Paddington 2, Florence Foster Jenkins, Notting Hill), Jeremy Thorpe was charged with conspiracy and incitement to murder Norman Scott, a former model and his ex-lover. Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, Paddington, Spectre) takes on the role of Norman Scott in this gripping 3-part drama currently airing on BBC One (produced by Blueprint Television).

Also starring Alex Jennings (The Queen, Victoria, The Crown), Patricia Hodge (Miranda, The Falklands Play, The Elephant Man), Jason Watkins (Taboo, Line of Duty, Trollied), Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners, Trust Me, Prime Suspect 1973) the drama used Manchester Town Hall as a location double for the Houses of Parliament in the 1960’s & 70’s. This location use was facilitated by Manchester’s film office, Screen Manchester last year.

Screen Manchester assisted Location Manager, Matt Winter, in securing the suitable locations within the Town Hall to successfully recreate the look and feel of 1960’s & 70’s Houses of Parliament as well as facilitating the necessary licences/sign off to film in the Grade 1 listed building.

The crew shot for 3 days in October 2017 utilising rooms, stairs ways and communal areas that can be seen throughout the BBC One drama.

In recent years, Manchester Town Hall has played host to a wide range of film & TV productions, some of which include; Peaky Blinders (Tiger Aspect Productions/Caryn Mandabach Productions for BBC), The Iron Lady (DJ Films), Victor Frankenstein (Fox UK Production Ltd), Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros) and the soon to be released feature film, Tolkien (Fox Searchlight Pictures).

“We are incredibly grateful to everyone at Screen Manchester and Manchester Town Hall for their support in making filming a possibility. Manchester Town Hall bears such a resemblance to the Houses of Parliament that filming there gave us a brilliant opportunity to bring a scale & authenticity to our parliament scenes, which wouldn’t otherwise have been feasible. For certain of us, filming in Manchester also meant we could travel to work from home - a welcome treat!”

Dan Winch (Producer, Blueprint Pictures) – A Very English Scandal

“Screen Manchester worked very closely with the locations team at Blueprint Television to ensure they had not just the location they wanted but support on permissions, access and licenses allowing us to ensure they had a really positive experience filming in the city.

It was great to get such talent, both in front and behind the camera, to Manchester to produce such high quality drama and we look forward to working with the team again in the future”

Bobby Cochrane (Development Manager, Screen Manchester)