Controversial factual drama The Reckoning will start airing on BBC One from Monday 9th October, and it tells the dark and harrowing true story surrounding the crimes of disgraced television personality Jimmy Savile.


Savile is played by Steve Coogan in the four-part series, which comes from executive producer Jeff Pope and writer Neil McKay, who have worked together on previous true crime dramas including See No Evil: The Moors Murders and Appropriate Adult.

The series has proved controversial because of its painful subject matter, with a common complaint being that horrific crimes shouldn’t be turned into peak-time fiction.

Executive producer Jeff Pope responded to this complaint in this week's issue of Radio Times magazine, expressing that he has faced the argument "throughout my career".

He explained: "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 added: "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.

"I think he was a con man. What we try to show is how, in successive institutions – Leeds General Infirmary, the pop business, the BBC, eventually Margaret Thatcher’s private office and beyond – the mechanics of Savile’s con worked. That’s what I think only drama can give you."

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Coogan has also defended the project, saying that commentators should "see it before you judge it", and saying: "By not talking about it, you don’t get to the nub of that and if you don’t look at it, you’re destined for those things to happen again."

He continued: "The drama answers the question: how did he get away with it? The drama answers that question, which is a very important one."

The Reckoning premieres on BBC One and iPlayer on Monday 9th October 2023. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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