Controversial factual drama The Reckoning has kicked off on BBC One, telling the harrowing true story surrounding the crimes of disgraced former BBC presenter and DJ Jimmy Saville (played by Steve Coogan).


The show's announcement last year sparked a huge backlash, with many objecting that the story of the prolific sex offender should not be dramatised.

Responding to this criticism, executive producer Jeff Pope previously told "My view is that the quickest way to invite something like this to happen again is to ignore it.

"I passionately believe we have to explore stories like Savile. The same is true with Fred West, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. The theme of a lot of stuff that Neil and I do is that it’s a warning from the past."

Meanwhile, writer Neil McKay said: "I think what drama can do – which documentaries can’t – is put you right in the middle of these scenes. Savile started out as a dance-hall DJ in Manchester. And DJs enjoy controlling a room."

More like this

The first two episodes of The Reckoning aired on the BBC last week, but when can we expect the next instalment and how many episode are there? Here is all you need to know.

The Reckoning release date

Steve Coogan in character as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning. He's wearing a shellsuit and sitting in a large chair.
Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning. BBC

The Reckoning aired its first episode on BBC One and iPlayer at 9pm on Monday 9th October 2023, with the second episode airing at the same time on the following night.

Episodes 3 and 4 will air on Monday and Tuesday the following week (16th and 17th October).

All episodes of the series are also available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

How many episodes of The Reckoning are there?

There are four episodes of The Reckoning in total, which are all available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

What is The Reckoning about?

Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning wearing a leather jacket with his arms folded
Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning. BBC/ITV Studios/Matt Squire

According to the official synopsis, the series follows: "The life of Jimmy Savile, a man who, for decades, became one of the UK’s most influential celebrities, but in death has become one of the most reviled figures of modern history following revelations of extensive and horrific abuse.

"Savile used his involvement in multiple organisations, such as the BBC, hospitals, prisons and charities, to legitimise himself, forging friendships in showbusiness, politics, journalism, the Catholic Church and even the royal family to cement his position.

"Using drama’s unique ability to place events in their emotional and historical context, the series will explore how Savile used his celebrity and powerful connections to conceal his crimes and exploit institutional failings.

"It is important to understand how he was able to hide in plain sight in order to gain a greater understanding of how he evaded justice. The drama aims to highlight the importance of confronting the horrors of the past and talking openly about abuse."

The synopsis for the series also notes that the team behind the drama "worked closely with many people whose lives were impacted by Savile to ensure their experiences are told and reflected with sensitivity and respect, and the drama will also draw on extensive, wide-ranging research and published accounts".

"It will examine the impact his appalling crimes had on his victims, and the powerlessness many felt when they tried to raise the alarm," it added.

"Four survivors of Savile who have contributed to The Reckoning will also feature in the series, interviewed on camera to offer their further insight and to reflect on their experiences in the hope that the telling of their stories will prevent something like it happening again."

The Reckoning cast

Charles Hullighan (Mark Lewis Jones), Beryl Hullighan (Siobhan Finneran) and Jimmy Savile (Steve Coogan) in The Reckoning gathered around a table in a cafe
Charles Hullighan (Mark Lewis Jones), Beryl Hullighan (Siobhan Finneran) and Jimmy Savile (Steve Coogan) in The Reckoning. BBC/ITV Studios/Matt Squire

The Reckoning stars Steve Coogan as Savile, while the supporting cast includes Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley), Gemma Jones (Gentleman Jack), Mark Stanley (The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe), Robert Emms (Andor) and Mark Lewis Jones (Gangs of London).

The drama also features interviews with four real-life survivors of Savile.

The Reckoning trailer

You can watch the full trailer for The Reckoning right here now.

The Reckoning starts Monday at 9pm on BBC One. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10, PLUS a £10 John Lewis and Partners voucher delivered to your home – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.