BBC tell ‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’

Tuesday: Impeachment: American Crime Story; (BBC Two, 9.15pm)

Monday, 18th October 2021, 5:00 pm

In 2016, Jeffrey Toobin’s book, The Run of His Life: The People v OJ Simpson, was adapted for television and became the first series of American Crime Story, gripping audiences on both sides of the Pond.

Creators Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski followed it up by using Maureen Orth’s Vulgar Favors as the foundation of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, chronicling the designer’s murder at the hands of Andrew Cunanan.

This time, Alexander and Karaszewski are probing the murky world of US presidential politics and returned to source material provided by Toobin, with his book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.

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Bill Clinton (Clive Owen) and Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein)

Thankfully the powers that be have condensed that mouthful down to the rather more concise subtitle Impeachment.

Previous American Crime Story players Sarah Paulson, Annaleigh Ashford and Judith Light are all present and correct for this third series which, as Toobin’s title has probably already given away, explores the scandal involving US President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

Over 10 episodes, it charts the story of the Democrat Commander in Chief and his illicit, two-year relationship with the 22-year-old White House intern.

Anyone with even a passing interest in the news at the time couldn’t miss the media coverage after The Washington Post initially broke the story of Clinton’s philandering in January 1998. He famously said in a press conference: “I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false.”

In August the same year, Clinton was forced to admit in a grand jury testimony that he and Lewinsky had an “improper physical relationship”, and by the end of the year, the Republican-held House of Representatives voted to issue two Articles of Impeachment, and a 21-day trial ensued.

Clinton was acquitted of all charges and he stayed in office, while Lewinsky’s name was forever associated with the notorious affair. She has gone on to become an activist, fashion designer and TV personality, and it would be interesting to know if she tuned in when this show premiered in the US last September.

The first episode begins in January 1998, the year the affair was made public, and Monica Lewinsky is invited to meet Linda Tripp. However, in reality, it’s a trap laid by the FBI, who take her to a hotel suite where she is set to be interviewed by the Office of Special Counsel.

The action then shifts to five years earlier, and Tripp is moved to the Pentagon after deputy White House counsel Vince Foster’s suicide, and she plans to write a tell-all novel about his life and death.

Meanwhile, Paula Jones pursues litigation against now-President Bill Clinton, demanding he apologise for his unwanted advances when he was governor of Arkansas, and files a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

Back in 1996, Tripp meets Lewinsky, who has been recently transferred from the Pentagon to the White House and learns she is involved with the President.

Clive Owen, Beanie Feldstein, Colin Hanks and Mira Sorvino are among the cast.

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