Louis Theroux has said that he remains “confused” over how he found Jimmy Savile “likeable” after making a documentary on the disgraced presenter.
The acclaimed documentarian spent three months with Savile for his 2000 film, When Louis Met Jimmy. Theroux’s documentary offered an insight into the late DJ’s private life, exposing some of the darker sides to his personality.
With Savile’s crimes not coming to light until after his death, the pair remained friends after filming wrapped on the project. In 2016, Theroux revisited the subject in an attempt to “understand the truth more fully” by speaking with Savile’s victims.
Now, Theroux has explained that he is still “confused” about his unlikely friendship and how he viewed Savile.
“There’s a slightly naive view that if abuse happens you recognise it as abuse straight away, and of course that isn’t how it works in a real world setting,” he told Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
“So, it was something that I had to learn and I’d like to think that I bring that understanding now to my work and also as a human being.”
Adding that he “remained in contact with [Savile] a little bit after” filming the documentary, Theroux said: “So, while I’m still quite proud of the first programme, I’m still a bit confused about how was I able to experience him as a somewhat likeable person in the year or two after making it.
“That’s something I think upon.”
Discussing his follow-up film, Louis Theroux: Savile, he explained: “I suppose I felt I wanted to figure out how it was that I’d missed what I’d missed. I wanted to do a personal and professional stock-taking and to sit down with victims and talk to them about their experiences.”
Theroux added: “[There is] something very conflicting about reading about crimes and predatory activity while also knowing that this was someone who you, sort of, quite liked, and trying to square that in your own mind.
“And sometimes… victims of serious sexual assault experience a similar ambivalence.”
Louis Theroux: Mothers on the Edge airs tonight (May 12) at 9 pm on BBC Two.