BBC slammed after releasing first look at Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in new drama
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The BBC has been criticised after releasing a first look of Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in forthcoming new drama The Reckoning.
Written by Neil McKay, the cast will also include BAFTA-winner Gemma Jones (Marvellous, Gentleman Jack), Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley, Time), Mark Lewis Jones (Outlander, Chernobyl) and Mark Stanley (Happy Valley, White House Farm).
According to the BBC, the drama will ‘trace the life of Jimmy Savile, a man who, for decades, became one of the UK’s most influential celebrities, but in death has become one of the most reviled figures of modern history following revelations of extensive and horrific abuse’.
“Savile used his involvement in multiple organisations, such as the BBC, hospitals, prisons, and charities, to legitimise himself, forging friendships in showbusiness, politics, journalism, the Catholic Church and even the Royal family to cement his position,” the broadcaster added.
However, after the release of a first look image of Coogan in character as Savile, many people criticised the project for profiting from Savile's crimes.
“I never understand why bad people get shows/films made about them,” one tweeted.
Someone else said: “If there was one series that did not need to be made…”
A third wrote: “This [series] shouldn't be made. Nobody should profit from anything to do with that sick freak.”
Others, meanwhile, argued the drama may be a good opportunity to raise awareness of Savile’s harrowing offences.
One person wrote: “On one hand, great; films have wide reach and can get more ppl to know the monster Savile was.”
They added: “On the other hand, do we really need to fully immortalise this prick by making a film about him... aren't the documentaries enough?”
The BBC shared the first look images and further details about the programme earlier today (17 August), saying in a press release that is hoped to use ‘drama’s unique ability to place events in their emotional and historical context’ to explore how Savile used his celebrity status and powerful connections to conceal his crimes - and exploit ‘institutional failings’.
“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 press release said.
“The drama aims to highlight the importance of confronting the horrors of the past and talking openly about abuse.
“The team have worked closely with many people whose lives were impacted by Savile to ensure their experiences are told and reflected with sensitivity and respect, and the drama will also draw on extensive, wide-ranging research and published accounts.
"It will examine the impact his appalling crimes had on his victims, and the powerlessness many felt when they tried to raise the alarm.”
The BBC said four survivors who have contributed to The Reckoning will also feature in the series, having been 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 happening again’.