The Reckoning reveals Jimmy Savile's abuse and scandal

Monday: The Reckoning (BBC1, 9pm)
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Although he’s now remembered as a predator and one of the most reviled figures in modern British history, there was a time when Jimmy Savile was one of the biggest stars on British TV.

He was so famous that many people mimicked him – and his distinctive style and unique vocal tics made him instantly recognisable.

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However, those impersonations have now taken on a much darker tinge, so it’s understandable that Steve Coogan had to think carefully about whether to accept the role in the new BBC drama The Reckoning, which traces Savile’s life.

Steve Coogan plays Jimmy SavileSteve Coogan plays Jimmy Savile
Steve Coogan plays Jimmy Savile

The actor, who is probably most famous for his alter ego Alan Patridge but has also taken on plenty of real-life roles, including Stan Laurel in the film Stan and Ollie, says: “To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly. Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively an horrific story which – however harrowing – needs to be told.”

Not everyone has agreed that this story does need to be told – or that the BBC, which missed opportunities to bring Savile to justice while he was alive, needs to tell it.

Coogan told the Radio Times that while he can empathise with the objections, he thinks The Reckoning is an important show.

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He said: “It is controversial and I understand that. The BBC are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, and I believe the correct choice is to be damned if they do.

“Broadly, it’s better to talk about something than not. The team had the right attitude and it was done with the cooperation of survivors. I think when it’s broadcast, it will vindicate itself.”

Some viewers may be reassured to learn that The Reckoning has been produced by Jeff Pope, who with writer McKay, has a track record for creating thoughtful dramas about controversial real-life cases. Their previous credits include Appropriate Adult, which dealt with serial killer Fred West, as well as The Moorside, which told the story of the community impacted by the disappearance of Shannon Matthews, and Four Lives, which shed new light on the murders of four young gay men by Stephen Port.

Now, they will be telling the story of how Savile rose to fame – and how he used his involvement in multiple organisations, such as the BBC, hospitals, prisons, and charities, and friendships with powerful figures to both prey on victims and conceal his crimes.

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The drama aims to raise important questions about how the abuser evaded justice, even in his twilight years when the rumours surrounding him were gaining strength and the man himself seem concerned with his legacy.

It will also examine the impact of his crimes on his victims and the powerlessness they felt when they tried to raise the alarm. Four of the survivors who contributed to The Reckoning will feature in the series speaking about their experiences.

The supporting cast includes Gemma Jones, Robert Emms and Siobhan Finneran n.

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