BBC One has announced that Steve Coogan has joined the cast of “The Reckoning,” an upcoming drama miniseries about the dark legacy of Jimmy Savile, the English television personality known for hosting “Top of the Pops.”
Written by Neil McKay, “The Reckoning” will tell the story of Savile’s life from his childhood to after his death in 2011, when he was ultimately found to have abused more than 500 children.
People accused Savile of sexually assaulting children during his career, but Savile denied these allegations and they received little publicity. According to the BBC, the team behind the series is working closely with several of Savile’s victims.
Savile’s working class background, including teen years spent in working in coal mines, made him a galvanizing figure as he rose to fame. He became a DJ after sustaining a major spinal injury in the coal mines, first playing in dance halls, then on the radio, then on TV. Savile hosted “Top of the Pops,” the famed music chart program, from its 1964 premiere for 20 more years, plus a few appearances afterwards. From 1975 to 1994, he also hosted “Jim’ll Fix It,” where he granted the wishes described in letters written usually by children.
“To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly. Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively a horrific story which — however harrowing — needs to be told,” Coogan said.
Coogan is known for co-writing, producing and starring in the 2013 film Philomena as well as developing the character Alan Partridge, a right-wing media personality meant to satirize British pundits, and playing the role in “On the Hour” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge,” among other programs. Coogan’s recent credits include the ITV miniseries “Stephen” and Michael Winterbottom’s 2019 film “Greed.”
“The purpose of this drama is to explore how Savile’s offending went unchecked for so long, and in shining a light on this, to ensure such crimes never happen again. Steve Coogan has a unique ability to inhabit complex characters and will approach this role with the greatest care and integrity,” said Jeff Pope, executive producer.
“‘The Reckoning’ is a unique opportunity to give Savile’s survivors, the people who inspired this project, a voice. I feel sure that Steve Coogan’s powerful performance as Savile will create a debate around how the cult of celebrity cloaked him from scrutiny,” said Sandra Goldbacher, who directs all episodes of the miniseries.
McKay and Pope will executive produce on behalf of ITV Studios, while Lucy Richer will serve as executive producer for the BBC. Clare Shepherd will also produce.