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Steve Coogan Defends New Jimmy Savile Series Amid Controversy

Claire Reid

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Steve Coogan Defends New Jimmy Savile Series Amid Controversy

Steve Coogan has defended playing Jimmy Savile in an upcoming mini-series, saying he believes it could prevent something similar happening again. 

Coogan will appear as the disgraced media personality in BBC’s The Reckoning, set to air later this year. 

The Reckoning is written by Neil McKay, who has a history of dramatising the lives of criminals including Stephen Port in Four Lives and Myra Hindley and Ian Brady in See No Evil: The Moors Murders

It will centre on Savile’s rise to fame, while also looking at how his decades of heinous sexual crimes went undetected. 

Jimmy Savile. Credit: Alamy
Jimmy Savile. Credit: Alamy

Announcing the show last year, the BBC said it would be made with ‘sensitivity and respect’. 

Director Sandra Goldbacher said: "The Reckoning is a unique opportunity to give Savile's survivors, the people who inspired this project, a voice.

"I feel sure that Steve Coogan's powerful performance as Savile will create a debate around how the cult of celebrity cloaked him from scrutiny."

Due to the show’s sensitive subject matter, criticisms have been raised, with some even questioning why the show has been created in the first place. 

However, appearing on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, Coogan has said he understands people’s ‘antagonism about the whole idea’ but insists it features an ‘intelligent’ script and was done ‘in consultation with many of Savile’s victims.'

He 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. 

Steve Coogan. Credit: Alamy
Steve Coogan. Credit: Alamy

“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 just don’t talk about it anymore, then those people are destined to come back.”

Coogan also revealed that he would speak to the actors playing victims beforehand to help them feel 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 that I was someone else. So it was a tightrope, but I think we did it properly…”

Coogan has previously said the decision to take on the role wasn’t an easy one. 

"To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly.

"Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively a horrific story which, however harrowing, needs to be told."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: TV and Film, BBC

Claire Reid
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