Steve Coogan defends Jimmy Savile drama series ‘The Reckoning’

“You need to look at someone like that to prevent it happening again”

Steve Coogan has defended upcoming BBC drama The Reckoning for tackling the subject of disgraced presenter Jimmy Savile.

The actor, who plays Savile in the four-part mini-series, appeared on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch where he stressed the importance of portraying characters like Savile.

Speaking on the show, Coogan said: “I think that’s because Jimmy Savile played a trick on the entire nation so there’s a real feeling of antagonism about it.

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“But you need to look at someone like that to understand how they’re able to operate and to prevent it happening again. If you sweep it under the carpet and don’t talk about it anymore, then those people are destined to come back.”

Steve Coogan
Steve Coogan. CREDIT: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Coogan said he spoke to actors playing the victims on-set to put them at ease. “I’d go and talk to them as myself and go, ‘Hi, I’m Steve, I’m not Jimmy Savile, that’s who I’m going to play today.

“And you’re playing a role and we’re going to do it professionally, and it was so that they knew I was someone else. So it was a tightrope, but I think we did it properly.”

Savile was discovered to have instigated abuse over decades during an investigation following his death in 2011.

The Reckoning will follow Savile through his early years as a DJ in the dance halls of North England, his career with the BBC – right up to his twilight years – and how he used his celebrity and powerful connections to dispel the growing rumours about his personal life.

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The team have said they worked closely with people whose lives were impacted by Savile to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect.

Speaking about being cast as Savile last year, Coogan said: “To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly. Neil McKay had written an intelligent script tackling sensitively a horrific story which – however harrowing – needs to be told.”

The Reckoning is scheduled to be released on BBC One in 2022.

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