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Steve Coogan to play sex offender Jimmy Savile in ITV Studios drama for BBC One

Steve Coogan will play Jimmy Savile in the forthcoming BBC One drama about the predatory sex offender and former BBC presenter’s life, made by ITV Studios.

Steve Coogan (photo: CC Maximilian Bühn)

The Reckoning (working title) will be written by Neil McKay, executive produced by Jeff Pope (The Moorside, Appropriate Adult) and directed by Sandra Goldbacher (Ordeal by Innocence, The Accident).

The miniseries, announced last year, will trace the life of Savile, a man who rose from working-class origins to become one of the biggest stars of British television, but in death has become one of the most reviled figures of modern history following revelations of extensive and horrific abuse.

The story will trace Savile through his early years in the dance halls of northern England, his career with the BBC to his twilight years when he sought to dispel the growing rumours about his life and the legacy he would leave behind.

The team are working with many people whose lives were impacted by Savile to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect, and the drama will also draw on extensive and wide-ranging research sources, the BBC said.

It will examine the impact his appalling crimes had on his victims and the powerlessness many felt when they tried to raise the alarm, added the pubcaster, which was thrown into disarray by the revelations in the years following Savile’s death in 2011.

Savile used his involvement in multiple organisations, such as hospitals, prisons, charities and the BBC, to legitimise himself. The drama will explore the way he used his celebrity and powerful connections to conceal his wrongdoings and to hide in plain sight.

Coogan, who as well as reviving his iconic comedy creation Alan Partridge has played roles in dramas such as Stephen, Philomena and Stan & Ollie in recent years, said: “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.”

Pope, executive producer at ITV Studios, added: “The purpose of this drama is to explore how Savile’s offending went unchecked for so long, and in shining a light on this, to ensure such crimes never happen again. Steve Coogan has a unique ability to inhabit complex characters and will approach this role with the greatest care and integrity.”

Goldbacher added: “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.”

The Reckoning has been commissioned for BBC One by Charlotte Moore, BBC chief content officer, and Piers Wenger, director of BBC Drama. Alongside Pope, it will be executive produced by McKay for ITV Studios and Lucy Richer for the BBC. Clare Shepherd will produce.


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