Hugh Grant - 5 fascinating facts about the Very English Scandal star

Learn more about the leading man in BBC One’s new mini-series about the downfall of Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe.

Hugh Grant is about to make his first television appearance in many years as the main character in A Very English Scandal.

The BBC One drama sees him play Jeremy Thorpe, the former leader of the Liberal Party whose career came crashing down over rumours of a gay relationship with Norman Scott (played by Ben Whishaw) and an alleged murder plot against him.

[Read more: Who stars in A Very English Scandal?]

Find out more about romcom star Hugh with our five fascinating facts about the actor.

He was first choice to play Doctor Who

A Very English Scandal has been adapted by screenwriter Russell T. Davies, who said that he had hoped to work with Hugh much earlier in his career.

Russell was responsible for the revival of cult hit Doctor Who in 2005, and said that he approached Hugh to play the Timelord – although the Notting Hill star has no recollection of being asked.

[Read more: Who was Jeremy Thorpe?]

The writer said: “I have always wanted to work with Hugh Grant. Always. I literally offered him Doctor Who in 2004.

“I told him that and he was like, ‘Really?!’. He knew nothing about that. I love him. I think he’s one of Britain’s finest actors.”

He’s been friends with his Four Weddings co-star since uni

Hugh’s breakout role was in 1994’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, in which he played the foppish Charles who went around inadvertently breaking hearts whilst looking for his soulmate.

One of those hearts belonged to Henrietta, or 'Duck Face', who Charles very nearly ended up married to and who was played by his old mate Anna Chancellor.

[Read more: Hugh Grant returns to TV in A Very English Scandal]

The pair had become friends right at the start of their careers as they were both keen young amateur actors during their student days at Oxford.

Anna told the Sunday Times: "I first met Hugh at a party at Oxford. There was something magical about him. He was a star even then, without having done anything.”

He’s not always Mr Popular with his co-stars

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Hugh has a certain bumbling charm about him from the characters that he often plays, but some of his co-stars – particularly on the other side of the Atlantic – would beg to differ.

He and Robert Downey Jr had bad feelings towards each other for years after working on 1995’s Restoration, although they have since buried the hatchet.

Downey Jr told the Hollywood Correspondent at the time: “I think he’s kind of a jerk. My personal experience with him is I think he's this kind of self-important, kind of, like, boring flash-in-the-pan a-hole Brit," and Hugh told People TV: “He hated me. He took one look at me and wanted to kill me. I was so hurt."

[Read more: Norman Scott slates 'weakling' BBC portrayal]

Hugh has also publicly added Drew Barrymore, Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts and Rachel Weisz to his long list of co-stars who disliked him.

Drew, who appeared alongside him in 2007’s Music and Lyrics, said: “He is like a complete cynic, self-tortured and dark. You’d go into his trailer and he’d be sitting there on the couch, chopping salad alone, an angry Englishman.”

He loves his new role as a press campaigner

In 2006, Hugh found himself at the centre of the UK's phone-hacking scandal after a chance encounter with a former tabloid photographer.

Since then, he has proudly taken a role as one of the main campaigners for Hacked Off, which lobbies for tighter controls of the press.

Hugh told the Guardian that he was much more comfortable with his new passion than acting.

[Read more: First look at Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe]

“Certainly, at the ripe old age of 51, it's nice to be speaking my own lines, being my own person, rather than sitting there in make-up saying someone else's lines,” he said.

“You're dealing in real life rather than just synthetic life. Which is very refreshing. I love getting into a taxi and saying House of Lords instead of, you know, Soho – again."

Becoming a dad has made him less grumpy

Hugh is the first to admit that his co-stars’ impressions of him as a grumpy old man is often true.

But if there’s one thing that has put the smile back on his face, it’s being dad to his five children and playing silly games with them.

[Read more: How many episodes of BBC's Woman in White are there?]

Talking to People TV, he said: “It was the nicest thing that's ever happened to me - he said sounding clichéd - but it happens to be true. It's just lovely to have all that love around. Suddenly you love someone more than yourself. It's unheard of in my case and they love you and it's all enchanting.

"It's always amusing to put your underpants on your head. My little girl at two likes her nappies on my head."

A Very English Scandal is a three-part series airing in May on BBC One.

Never miss an episode with BT TV – look out for it on the BBC iPlayer app.

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