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The Reckoning: viewers saying same thing about new Jimmy Savile drama starring Steve Coogan

The series delves into the life of the disgraced entertainer


Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
10 October 2023
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The BBC's highly-anticipated new drama, The Reckoning, aired on Monday night and viewers have taken to social media to give their verdict on the opening episode. 

The four-part series traces the life of disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile, who for decades was regarded as one of the UK's most influential celebrities, but in death became one of the most reviled figures of modern history after revelations of extensive abuse came to light. 

WATCH: Steve Coogan portrays Jimmy Savile in the BBC drama, The Reckoning

While some viewers questioned why the BBC had commissioned the drama given the broadcaster's history with Savile, many took to X, formerly Twitter, to praise the compelling yet tough watch. 

One person wrote: "I decided to watch this series despite the revulsion I feel toward Savile. It's excellent. Those he abused are amazingly courageous to give their accounts of abuse by him. The actors are quietly outstanding. It's important to hear what this series reveals."

Jimmy Savile played by Steve Coogan© Matt Squire
Steve Coogan plays Jimmy Savile in the drama

A second person tweeted: "#TheReckoning is quite some drama, as I expected it to be. It's vital that shows like this are made, despite this being hard to stomach at times," while another added: "Have only watched the first one, but I thought that was exemplary in its treatment. Sensitive and devastating. The inclusion of the victims is so important. Coogan completely chilling."

Others who tuned in on Monday night also praise Steve Coogan in his portrayal of Savile, with many calling for the actor to win a BAFTA for his performance. 

Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning© Matt Squire
Viewers praised Steve's performance

One person wrote: "Steve Coogan is absolutely excellent in #TheReckoning. The mannerisms, voice and acting are all just as skin-crawling and vile as it needs to be. Excellently written and acted, in exactly the right tone. I'd advise anyone to watch it," while another added: "What a performance from Steve Coogan, to play someone as evil and horrific as Savile couldn't have been easy."

A third person tweeted: "Steve Coogan is outstanding - what a sensational delivery of Jimmy Savile's odd ticks & subterfuge… Great script - important to see victims' stories sensitively told."

Gemma Jones plays Agnes Savile, Jimmy's mother© Matt Squire
Gemma Jones plays Agnes Savile, Jimmy's mother

Speaking to the BBC about his approach to playing Saville, Coogan said: "I've played a number of real people and in some ways I didn't treat him any differently. I feel an overwhelming sense of revulsion about Jimmy Savile and the way he operated, but I put my personal revulsion to one side to play him convincingly because the risk with not doing that is him coming across as a sort of pantomime villain, which would lack credibility and therefore not do this justice. 

"It had to be grounded and believable," he added. 

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What is The Reckoning about?

The series explores how Savile used his celebrity status to hide his horrific crimes.

The team behind the drama worked closely with people whose lives were impacted by Savile, ensuring their "experiences are told and reflected with sensitivity and respect". 

Madeleine Edmondson portrays survivor Sam in The Reckoning© BBC
Madeleine Edmondson portrays survivor Sam in The Reckoning

A press release from the BBC reads: "It is important to understand how he was able to hide in plain sight in order to gain a greater understanding of how he evaded justice. The drama aims to highlight the importance of confronting the horrors of the past and talking openly about abuse.

"Four survivors of Savile who have contributed to The Reckoning will also feature in the series, interviewed on camera to offer their further insight and to reflect on their experiences in the hope that the telling of their stories will prevent something like it from happening again."

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