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Series / National Treasure

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A British television drama aired on Channel 4 from September-October 2016. It was inspired by Operation Yewtree, the police investigation into sexual crimes that had started four years earlier in the wake of revelations about Jimmy Savile, and had resulted in the arrests of several veteran entertainers. The serial aired as four 1-hour episodes.

Robbie Coltrane stars as Paul Finchley, a comedian who is beloved by the nation but whose Glory Days are long behind him. One day, the police come to call; he is accused of raping a 15-year old girl twenty years earlier, and other allegations are being investigated. The drama focuses on Paul and his family, with his wife Marie (Julie Walters) and his daughter Dee (Andrea Riseborough). As the trial unfolds, the mystery is not just whether Paul is guilty, but whether the court will deliver the right verdict...


Not to be confused with the Nicolas Cage film.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Paul eventually reveals to his daughter that his father was not only physically, but also sexually abusive to him during his childhood, with the man's apparent rage and depravity stemming from the way he was treated by his Irish family after they discovered he fought for the British in World War II.
  • Addled Addict: Dee Finchley, Paul's daughter. Although she is in recovery in a halfway house, her use of drugs in the past has left her with an abrasive and somewhat chaotic personality.
  • As Himself: Several well-known British comedians appear as themselves. Alan Carr, Frank Skinner and Robert Webb appear at the awards ceremony at the start of the series, and Lee Mack takes over hosting Smuggle during Pauls trial.
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  • Big Fancy House: The Finchley residence.
  • Catchphrase: Throughout the series, Paul is repeatedly asked by people to do a popular phrase from one of his sitcoms in the early 1990s.
    Paul Finchley: Milk's sour? Not surprised. But then them cows are a moody bunch.
  • Comedy Duo: Paul and his partner Karl Jenkins.
  • Country Matters: Used by Paul's lawyer Jerome in reference to the police when they trick them into leaving through the back after the interview, where several photographers from the local press were lying in wait.
  • Daddy's Girl: As a child and teenager, Dee was always much closer to Paul than Marie. In a flashback, a younger Marie sadly asks Paul why she loves him so much and hates her.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Although it is revealed that Paul did rape a woman, and have consensual sex with an underage girl, it is never hinted he was sexually inappropriate in any way towards his daughter, and genuinely loves and cares for her.
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  • Exiled to the Couch: When the allegations are first made, Marie refuses to share a bed with Paul, exiling him to the couch in the den.
  • False Rape Accusation: The main focus of the series. Paul is accused of multiple counts of rape, and one count of statutory rape, both of which he ferociously denies. They are later revealed to be true.
  • Flashback: How the truth is revealed to viewers.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Paul is arrested and interviewed by the fictional Middlesex Police. It is never made clear whether it is intended to stand in for the London Metropolitan Police, or the police service in one of the surrounding Home Counties.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Paul and his partner Karl, despite Karl's attraction towards Marie. Karl is prepared to lie to protect Paul's reputation, knowing full well that if it is tarnished, his will be too.
  • Karma Houdini: On the face of it, yes, given that Paul Finchley is guilty but walks. But his wife learns the truth, his daughter no longer believes him and it's likely that much of the public will continue to doubt his innocence. It's more of a Pyrrhic Victory.
  • Missing Mom: Dee Finchley has spent the majority of her adulthood in rehabilitation for her drug addictions, and thus is basically absent from her children's lives. It shows when they come to visit her in hospital after she attempts suicide, with her son uncomfortably making smalltalk and leaving after only a few minutes.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Journalist Victoria Derbyshire briefly cameos in the series. Several real life media and newspaper outlets also feature, including Channel 4, The Sun and the Daily Express.
  • Not Proven: As is usually the case with sexual abuse trials.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Zoe Darwin, Paul's defense barrister, is played by New Zealand actress Kerry Fox. Although the character speaks with an upper class English accent throughout, when things get heated in the courtroom scenes her Kiwi accent becomes more apparent.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Paul wins the court case despite actually being guilty, but only after going through an ordeal and losing the trust of his family. And it's implied that even though he's acquitted, his public reputation has been permanently destroyed.
  • Show Within a Show: Three are referenced to throughout the series. The first two, Crooked Peaks and Japes, were sitcoms which Paul and Karl wrote and starred in in the 1990's. Smuggle, a daytime quiz show, is what Paul currently hosts until the accusations come forward.
  • Sir Swears Alot: Jerome Sharpe, Paul's solicitor.
  • Smoking Gun: Paul's legal team find two vital pieces of evidence to tear apart the accusations of the women who accuse him:
    • The first is a speeding ticket from the 1990s, which shows that on the date Christina Farnborough alleged she and Paul had sex in his Corvette, the car was hundreds of miles away being driven by Marie. It is later revealed she is partially embellishing the story, but she and Paul did have sex in his house when she was only 15.
    • The second is a fan letter sent to Paul by Rebecca Thornton, shown by the postmark to have been sent a whole year after she alleges he raped her. It is later revealed he did in fact rape her on the date she alleged, but she was so shaken up and confused by it she still sent the letter a year after.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Paul and Karl, respectively. In a flashback it is revealed that it caused a level of tension between them, with producers preferring Karl's eccentric approach to comedy and trying to give him more screentime than Paul.
  • Successful Sibling Syndrome: Although not biological siblings, this is true to an extent with Karl and Paul. Karl found great success even after his Glory Days of comedy, getting roles in serious acting, performing as Richard III and even receiving a knighthood, whereas Paul ended up out of the spotlight, hosting a daytime quiz show to keep the money coming in.
  • Younger Than They Look: Christina Farnborough, the family's former babysitter who alleges she had an affair with Paul when she was 15. Marie remarks that she was always trying to look older by wearing heavy makeup, which is shown to be true in the flashbacks.

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