BBC boss defends controversial Jimmy Savile series that stars Steve Coogan
BBC drama boss Piers Wenger has defended the channel’s controversial upcoming series The Reckoning, which will trace disgraced star Jimmy Savile‘s upbringing, career and prolific child sex offences.
Speaking about the show during a press conference on Monday, Wenger sought to quell concerns that the Steve Coogan-fronted series had been commissioned too soon after Savile’s crimes came to light.
Wenger said: ‘It’s a decade since Jimmy Savile died [and] it will be a decade next year since his behaviours first came into the public eye. Our primary intention with the drama is to give voice to the victims.’
Defending the show: BBC boss Piers Wenger defended the channel’s upcoming series which will trace disgraced star Jimmy Savile’s upbringing, career and prolific child sex offences
Wenger continued: ‘[We want to tell] their stories sensitively and with the utmost respect. There are still many important questions that need to be answered about Savile, so I think it’s incredibly important that the BBC tell that story.’
Wenger was also asked how a dramatized show such as The Reckoning would be able to add anything yet to be addressed by the factual documentaries that have been made about Savile.
He replied: ‘The documentaries that have been on show you the heinous and nature of his crimes, but I’ve yet to see one that really answers the question, ”How did this happen?”’
He added that The Reckoning has been ‘extensively researched’ and that ‘many of the survivors’ are involved in the drama’s making.
Lead role: Steve Coogan, 55, portrays Jimmy Savile in new BBC drama and has been seen filming for the show in Manchester this week
On set: Steve was pictured wearing a jester outfit on Monday as he filmed scenes in character as Savile
The decision to chronicle Savile’s life has come under fire from many and this is not the first time the BBC has emphasized they worked with his victims and will portray the story ‘with sensitivity and respect’.
Steve, who famously portrays fictional comedic character Alan Partridge, previously explained in a statement the decision to play Savile was not one ‘I took lightly’.
He added: ‘Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively a horrific story which, however harrowing, needs to be told.’
Savile, who rose from a humble working-class upbringing to become one of British television’s biggest stars, passed away aged 84 in 2011.
In his final years, he fought to quell growing speculation about his illegal exploits throughout his illustrious career with the BBC – with victim testimony expected to be brought to life in the new drama.
Shocking: Savile, who rose from a humble working-class upbringing to become one of British television’s biggest stars, passed away aged 84 in 2011
A BBC-led inquiry into his actions found he had molested at least 72 children, some as young as eight, over a four decade campaign of sexual abuse with his first victim in 1959 and his last in 2006.
His horrific reign of abuse could be charted ‘in the corridors, canteens, staircases and dressing rooms of every BBC premises’, their 2016 report found.
A release date has yet to be announced with filming for the series expected to continue taking place in Manchester over the coming months.
Statement: Steve, who famously portrays fictional comedic character Alan Partridge, previously explained in a statement the decision to play Savile was not one ‘I took lightly’