For some reason, we can’t get enough of stories about scams: shows about swindlers, deceivers, and crooks alike have been some of TV’s most popular content this year. Bad Vegan was one of the year’s most popular documentaries, Amanda Seyfried made waves with her portrayal of Elizabeth Holmes and Inventing Anna became a massive streaming hit.

The BBC seems to be looking to take advantage of this recent trend with its own scammer series, The Following Events Are Based On A Pack Of Lies. The show centres around two women who are very different from one another: best-selling fantasy author Cheryl Harker and PA Alice Newman. Both are strangers to each other but are connected by Dr Rob Chance, a man who claims to be a successful environmentalist entrepreneur. The two eventually meet and discover that they’re both being conned, and decide to partner up to bring down Chance’s charade.

Cheryl, a fantasy writer, lives alone following the death of her partner, though she has her poodle Goblin to keep her company. Alice meanwhile is a “formidable” and effective personal assistant, as well as a mother and lifelong Madonna fan.

Both are pulled in by Rob’s eccentric persona and claims of being a celebrated ecopreneur, unaware that he’s deceiving them.

The synopsis gives some more thematic and story detail: “This is a story about lies and artifice, about our weakness for self-deception, and about the rapid ascent of the modern fraudster. Why do ‘respectable’ psychopaths rise to the top?

“Why does a posh man in a suit still seem so plausible compared to a working-class single mum in a pink plastic rain mac? And if you can’t beat them, is joining them really so bad?”

Sisters Penelope and Ginny Skinner are creating the show, both of whom wrote the graphic novel Briony Hatch, with Penelope having also written for Fresh Meat. It also stars a strong cast, with Marianne Jean-Baptiste, (Jack Ryan, Without a Trace and Secrets & Lies) playing Cheryl, Rebekah Staton (Wallander, Doctor Who) playing Alice, Alistair Petrie (Sex Education, The Night Manager) playing Dr Rob Chance, and stage and screen legend Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius, The King’s Speech, Gosford Parl) playing Sir Ralph Unwin, a man who has seemingly also been scammed by Dr. Chance.


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