Louis Theroux is making a new BBC documentary about Jimmy Savile, more than a decade after his original film about the disgraced presenter came close to exposing him as a paedophile.
Theroux is to interview victims of Savile, one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders, as well as the star’s close friends and family members, for the programme, which will air next year, Radio Times can reveal.
In the famous documentary When Louis Met Jimmy from 15 years ago, Theroux had openly asked Savile about the rumours that he was a paedophile.
The former Top Pop of the Pops presenter tried to brush off the claims – albeit unconvincingly – with a series of bizarre statements.
In the new BBC2 film Theroux will revisit the subject of the 2000 documentary to try to find out how he was “hoodwinked” by the star over the true nature of his character.
Theroux went on to become friends with Savile, until 2004, as a result of making the memorable documentary, and even at times stayed in the oddball TV star’s home.
In 2012, the full scale of Savile’s prolific sexual offending was brought to light as many victims came forward to report their abuse carried out by the TV host. He had died the year before, aged 84.
The new film will see the 45-year-old documentary-maker trying to “understand the truth” about Savile by speaking to the people who knew him, including those that the former Radio 1 disc-jockey introduced Theroux to between 1999 and 2004.
The BBC said the programme would raise the question of whether the “circle of people” that Savile was surrounded by were fooled in the same way as Theroux was, or whether some of them were “holding onto secrets”.
The broadcaster added that Theroux will try in the new film to understand Savile’s personality and how his celebrity status allowed him to get away with committing the countless crimes he carried out on girls and boys.
Theroux, who made the original film, When Louis Met Jimmy, for three months from the end of 1999 until the beginning of 2000, will also study the effect Savile’s crimes had on the victims.
The bizarre exchange between Theroux and Savile on the subject of the paedophile rumours in the original documentary is now regarded as one of the biggest hints at Savile’s secret life of sexual offending.
In it, Savile had claimed that “as a single man” it was easier for him to say he did not like children because it put “salacious tabloid people off the hunt”. When Theroux asked if he meant he said that to stop tabloids pursuing the line that he might be a paedophile, Savile said: “How do they know whether I am or not?”
This summer it was claimed that Dame Janet Smith, who is leading a review into Savile’s abuse at the BBC, had asked why the Corporation had not investigated Savile after the claims were made in Theroux’s 2000 film. It was subsequently reported that BBC executives had been “quizzed” by the inquiry about their response to the Theroux film.
Theroux has made a number of highly acclaimed and award-winning documentaries, including recent programmes The Most Hated Family in America, Transgender Kids and By Reason of Insanity.
BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw said of the new documentary: “BBC2 should be part of the national conversation and this challenging subject matter is the kind I want to see on the channel.
“Louis Theroux is one of the country’s most talented film makers and I am very pleased that he is revisiting this important – and deeply personal – subject for us, asking difficult questions about the life of Jimmy Savile and those around him and exploring the impact his crimes had on his victims.”