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BBC breaks silence over Steve Coogan's Jimmy Savile drama backlash

The new series will trace the life of disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile

steve coogan© Photo: Getty Images
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
October 13, 2021
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The BBC has defended the upcoming drama series The Reckoning which will see Steve Coogan play one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders, Jimmy Savile.

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At a press event on Monday, Piers Wenger, the head of BBC Drama, faced questions about whether it was too soon to release a drama about the events. He was also quizzed on whether the BBC was the right place for the series. 

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Defending the miniseries, Piers said: "I mean, it is a decade since Jimmy Savile died, it will be a decade next year since his behaviours first came into the public eye.

“But, you know, our primary intention with the drama is to give voice to the victims – to tell their stories sensitively and with the utmost respect. And we have an amazing, award-winning team who are renowned for their factual drama… And I think there are still many important questions that need to be answered about Saville, and many questions that we are asking of ourselves through that drama. So I think it’s incredibly important that the BBC, you know, do tell that story.”

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Piers also said that the team behind the drama has worked closely with survivors of Savile’s crimes and "extensive research" has gone into making the new series.

steve coogan red carpet

Steve will play disgraced broadcaster Jimmy Savile

Steve Coogan, who is best-known for playing comedy roles such as Alan Partridge, but has also taken on more dramatic roles in films such as Philomena, will be playing Savile.

Steve spoke to the BBC about playing the disgraced broadcaster: "To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly. Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively an horrific story which - however harrowing - needs to be told."

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Savile was known for hosting TV shows such as Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It in the 1970s and 80s, and was regarded as one of the UK’s top entertainers during that time.

Almost a year after his death in 2011, ITV released a documentary examining claims of sexual abuse against him, leading to extensive media coverage, further allegations of abuse and a number of public inquiries. In 2014, investigations concluded that Savile had sexually assaulted hundreds of people, mostly vulnerable young females.

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