Jimmy Savile drama shows Steve Coogan transform into depraved TV presenter

Actor and comedian Steve Coogan has been seen in the first official picture from a new TV drama, where he portrays the depraved TV presenter Jimmy Savile.

The 57-year-old Alan Partridge star transforms into the BBC star in a new BBC One drama, The Reckoning.

In the shot, Steve can be seen wearing one of Jimmy Savile's bright tracksuits, relaxing in a chair while smoking his signature cigar. The blond wig he is wearing turns Steve into an uncanny likeness to Savile.

Steve had previously been spotted on set wearing a similar wig during the filming of the series in 2021.

The mini-series, due to be released later this year, will tell how Savile came from a working-class background to be one of the biggest stars in TV and will also focus on his years of sexual abuse and the impact he had on his victims.

The disgraced presenter – known for hosting chart music show Top Of The Pops in the 1970s, and Jim'll Fix It in the 1980s – died in 2011 aged 84, having never been brought to justice for his crimes.

Back in 2000, filmmaker Louis Theroux recorded a documentary with Savile, spending 10 days with him at his homes. He later said he felt responsible for not probing Savile's answers to his questions about rumours of paedophilla surrounding the presenter.

The makers of The Reckoning said they had been “working closely with many people whose lives were impacted by Savile to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect."

And speaking on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, earlier this year, Steve said there had been a “great deal of antipathy toward me doing it when it was announced”.

“I understand people’s antagonism about the whole idea,” he said, but added that the script was “very intelligent” and “it was done in consultation with many of the victims of Jimmy Savile.

“And they came along to the shoot and their story was encompassed into the story of Jimmy Savile and I think with all these things, generally speaking, it’s better to talk about them than not talk about them.”

The script has been written by Neil McKay, whose other credits include BBC drama Four Lives, about serial killer Stephen Port, who drugged and raped four men before dumping their bodies near his home in Barking, east London.

Referring to ITV drama Des, in which David Tennant played serial killer Dennis Nilsen, Steve said that while the actor had done a “brilliant job”, the series did not “attract the same kind of antagonism, even though his crimes were, in some ways, more horrific.

“I think that’s because Jimmy Savile played a trick on the entire nation so there’s a real feeling of antagonism about it, but you need to look at someone like that to understand how they’re able to operate and to prevent it happening again.”

Dennis Nilsen died behind bars in 2018, at the age of 72, having carried out a murder spree during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Steve said he also spoke to the actors who were portraying Savile’s victims before they filmed scenes.

He said: “I’d go and talk to them as myself and go ‘Hi, I’m Steve, I’m not Jimmy Savile, that’s who I’m going to play today’.

“And you’re playing a role and we’re going to do it professionally, and it was so that they knew that I was someone else. So it was a tightrope, but I think we did it properly…”

Earlier this year, radio DJ Nicky Campbell spoke out about his "overwhelming" experience of meeting Savile, when he joined Radio 1 as a presenter taking over from the star in 1987.

He said: "The PR-schtick was that he was leaving and 'Jimmy Savile had fixed it for young Scots DJ', but actually they were getting rid of him from Radio 1. He was joining the World Service.

"I was with him for about two hours, the way he operated and the kind of dark charisma, kissing all the cleaning lady's hand and the commissioners, calling them professor and stuff like that. It was quite overwhelming."

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