Steve Coogan pictured on set to play Jimmy Savile in controversial BBC drama
Steve Coogan has been pictured on set alongside hospital extras, as filming for the BBC’s controversial new Jimmy Savile drama begins.
Coogan, 55, will portray the prolific sex offender in The Reckoning, and was seen arriving at set in Bolton to begin filming.
The Alan Partridge star was pictured in the back of a chauffeured Range Rover, and was shielded from view by umbrellas as he made his way onto set.
While Coogan was not seen in full costume, a number of extras were pictured in nursing uniforms from the sixties, signalling that the drama will cover from when the sexual abuse allegations against Savile began.
Several women were seen wearing nurse’s pinafores, while a number of men, presumably playing hospital patients, walked around in pyjamas.
No release date has yet been given for the documentary, which is expected to continue filming over the coming months.
Coogan said that playing the disgraced former Top of the Pops presenter, who died in 2011, was ‘not a decision I took lightly’, saying: ‘Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively an horrific story which – however harrowing – needs to be told.’
Neil McKay, who wrote the Bafta-winning drama Appropriate Adult, about serial killer Fred West, wrote The Reckoning, and both he and executive producer Jeff Pope also worked on Moorside, about the disappearance of Shannon Matthews, and the forthcoming drama Four Lives, about the murders of four young gay men by Stephen Port.
Pope said: ‘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.’
However, there has been backlash to the drama being made by the BBC, considering an inquiry into Savile’s crimes found that the corporation missed opportunities to stop ‘monstrous’ abuse by the DJ because of a ‘culture of fear’.
The BBC also kept a Newsnight documentary looking into the allegations against Savile off air, with ITV going public with their investigation a year later.
An inquiry into Savile after his death found he had molested at least 72 children, some as young as eight, over a four decade campaign of sexual abuse.
His first victim was in 1959 and his last in 2006, and the BBC report by Dame Janet Smith stated that his reign of abuse could be charted in ‘in the corridors, canteens, staircases and dressing rooms of every BBC premises’.
In the 1960s, Savile abused patients at Leeds general infirmary and Stoke Mandeville hospital, where he was a volunteer, and went on to abuse girls at Duncroft girls’ school in Surrey in the early 1970s, as well as groping a 12-year-old boy at a recording of Top of the Pops.
A 2014 investigation by the Department of Health found that Savile abused 60 people including at least 33 patients aged between five and 75 in Leeds, and Scotland Yard labelled him ‘a prolific, predatory’ sex offender.
Savile began presenting Top of the Pops in 1964, and returned to co-host the final weekly edition in 2006.
He was given a knighthood in 1990, which expired upon his death aged 84.
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