Tonight’s thrilling episode of Line of Duty contained a disturbingly familiar face.
As anti-corruption cops Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) quizzed Chief Supt Patrick Fairbank (George Costigan) about his involvement in the Sandsview care home abuse, a photo of a sinister personality in a tracksuit, smoking a cigar, popped up shaking hands with the fictional abusers.
Yes, Jimmy Savile, the real life BBC DJ and sexual criminal, was implicated in the exploitation of young people in the drama.
He wasn’t named. “I think we all recognise him,” said Hastings who delivered a brilliant speech on the evils of child abuse and exploitation.
How many more establishment and powerful figures are protecting people like this “clapped out DJ”, he asked.
I am told Savile’s inclusion was writer Jed Mercurio’s idea and that the BBC deliberated long and hard about it. It wasn’t an easy decision but in the end his creative reasons were given priority and the production team decided it did not trivialise the real-life crimes and the devastating impact on Savile’s many living victims.
The BBC said in a statement tonight: “Line Of Duty is an established fictional drama series set in a recognisable and authentic world. One brief picture has been included to highlight the real-life context of the fictional story – that a fictional police officer suppressed claims of child sexual exploitation by a fictional local politician.
“When viewers have had the opportunity to view the episode for themselves, they will see the BBC has acted responsibly and sensitively towards the victims and survivors of Savile, NAPAC were consulted and aware of his inclusion and the episode will be preceded by a warning and followed by an action line. “