Belfast Telegraph

Scandal's an explosive drama that trumps real life politics

As Scandal returns for a sixth series, Kerry Washington and Bellamy Young, who play crisis manager Olivia Pope and First Lady-turned-presidential candidate Mellie Grant, tell Jeananne Craig why politics is so enthralling

If the recent events in the White House haven't been exciting enough for you, or if you need an escape from real-life politics, a new instalment of political thriller Scandal will soon be back on screens.

Series six of the US drama looks set to be more gripping than Donald Trump's hairspray, with dramatic election results and an explosive surprise in store.

As Kerry Washington, who plays Olivia Pope, crisis manager and former media consultant to the President, notes: "There's something about stirring the pot of politics, having to be the most popular, to be the most powerful, that takes you on an interesting journey."

But with a smile, she insists that art won't be imitating life - not intentionally, at least.

"No one will believe us, but the first five episodes were actually written and shot before the election. The show is really built independently; they've arced out what the season is going to be about separately from this current election."

When series five drew to a close, Olivia - whose job involves protecting the images of the political elite - was managing the election campaign of former First Lady-turned-presidential hopeful Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) and her running mate, Jake Ballard.

Adding to the drama, Olivia counts both Mellie's ex-husband, President Fitzgerald 'Fitz' Grant, and Jake as former flames.

Viewers won't have to wait long to learn the outcome of the election, as the series kicks off with the hotly-anticipated results. There'll also be a big explosion, romantic tension, and a blazing row between Olivia and Mellie.

Washington's character is partly based on former Bush administration press aide Judy Smith. The actress, who turns 40 this month, explains: "Politics is about people, and the issues people deal with, the issues that are most important to us - faith and love and hope and ambition, greed. Those issues are universal."

Her co-star Young, (46), adds: "As long as there have been people, there have been power struggles, and Washington is our crucible in that regard. So I think ambition and power and loyalty and betrayal is taken to the nth degree when you come to Washington and try and become President."

On top of the sizzling subject matter, there's also the impeccable writing, led by Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes - the name behind hit medical show Grey's Anatomy, and a producer on the Emmy Award-winning How To Get Away With Murder.

Young describes Rhimes as "a once-in-a-generation storyteller".

"Shonda and all our incredible writers have an unerring sense of story and it makes a difference," she adds.

"It really feels like appointment TV. The next morning, you don't want to hear people telling you anything because there are true spoilers, and that seems rare nowadays.

"So many things are binge-worthy and delectable in the minutiae and the nuance and the storytelling, but for some reason, ours has a pulse that is right in the moment."

Scandal returns to Sky Living on Thursday, February 2 at 9pm.

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