BBC boss insists Jimmy Savile series will ‘give voice to victims’ after backlash

Jimmy Savile 'gifted cigars by Prince Charles' says Kay

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BBC’s latest drama, The Reckoning, will cover the disgraced star Jimmy Savile’s childhood, career, and the prolific sex offences he committed whilst in the spotlight. However, despite the backlash since the announcement of the series, BBC boss Piers Wenger has defended the BBC’s choice to run the series. He commented that it will highlight and give voices to the victims of Savile.

Speaking about the upcoming series in a press conference, 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.” 

Wegner 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.”

He was also asked questions about how a dramatized show such as this would be able to add anything yet to be addressed by the factual documentaries made about Savile. 

“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?’” Wegner explained. 

“We will work with survivors to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and to examine the institutions which Jimmy Savile was associated with and the circumstances in which these crimes to place.

“Drama has the ability to tackle sensitive real-life subjects and consider the impact of a crime on its survivors and hat lessons can be learnt to stop this ever happening again.”

The Reckoning has been extensively researched, and many of the survivors are involved in the drama’s making. 

However, the decision to drag the chronicles of Savile’s life once again through the media came under fire, with it not being the first time this has happened.

Savile rose to fame and became one of British televisions biggest stars, fighting growing speculations about his illegal exploits throughout his career with the BBC.

The BBC led an inquiry found that he had sexually assaulted at least 72 children, some as young as eight, over a four-decade campaign.

Steve Coogan, best known for playing comedic character Alan Partridge, portrays Savile in the new BBC drama and spoke about how deciding to take on the role.+

Coogan’s involvement in the series was announced earlier this month, with the actor commenting: “To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly.”

He explained: “Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively a horrific story which, however harrowing, needs to be told.”

Writer Neil McKay also commented: “We must understand why a man like Jimmy Savile seemed to remain immune for so long to proper scrutiny and criminal investigation.”

Photographers and fans have spotted Coogan dressed in character filming in Manchester, seen through a window with Savile’s distinctive blonde hairstyle. 

Upon seeing these images, Ben wrote on Twitter: “Steve Coogan dressed as Savile dressed as a jester has left me deeply unsettled and worried for my nightmares later.”

MirabelAtom also commented: “I love Steve Coogan – he’s a very clear and talented actor. It’ll probably be one of the performances of his career, but I won’t be watching. There’s something distinctly off with the BBC commissioning a show about a grotesque abuser who operated unchallenged on their watch.”

The BBC has yet to confirm any further details other than it’s being developed and now filming is in progress. 

The Reckoning will air on BBC One. 

If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information from Rape Crisis England and Wales, who work towards the elimination of all forms of sexual violence and sexual misconduct, on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.
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