Starring Sarah Paulson and Beanie Feldstein, Ryan Murphy’s 10-part series on the infamous White House affair is propulsive, addictive and shot through with comedy

There is nothing stranger than the recent past. For that reason, it can be a goldmine for writers, and none has extracted more from it in the past few years than Ryan Murphy. The late 90s is his most fertile seam, furnishing all three parts of his American Crime Story anthology. The opening season gave him his first – and unexpected – post-Glee hit in the glorious The People v OJ Simpson, which retold the story of the 1994 killing of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman and the most infamous murder trial of modern (media) times that followed. Then came The Assassination of Gianni Versace, about the death of the designer at the hands of Andrew Cunanan in 1997. Now we have Impeachment (BBC Two), which focuses on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal that occupied minds, headlines and the House of Representatives for much of 1998.

This new 10-part instalment, written mainly by Sarah Burgess, puts the bureaucrat Linda Tripp – played by the most revered of his repertory company, Sarah Paulson – rather than the US president or his intern front and centre. The drama opens in 1998 with her leading the FBI to Monica (Beanie Feldstein) and leading her away to a hotel for questioning (“It’s for your own good,” Tripp assures her) as part of the Paula Jones investigation and pending lawsuit. We then move back to 1993, the suicide of Vince Foster and the Whitewater investigation, presented as the beginning of Tripp’s move from loyal (if abrasive and self-aggrandising) White House civil servant to embittered employee ready to put a metaphorical bomb under the place.

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