BBC releases first photo of Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in harrowing new series

BBC has unveiled the first official photograph of Steve Coogan in character as Jimmy Savile.

Coogan will play the disgraced TV star in a forthcoming four-part BBC drama titled The Reckoning, which will dramatise Savile’s history of paedophilia.

In the image which was released by the broadcaster on Thursday (17 August), Coogan can be seen in costume as Savile wearing one of his trademark red suits.

Sporting Savile’s distinctive cropped hairstyle, Coogan is seen sitting in a chair with a cigar in hand.

The Reckoning began filming in November 2021 in Manchester.

Coogan, 55, previously said that his decision to play the Top of the Pops host and paedophile was not one he “took lightly”.

After his death in 2011, hundreds of survivors came forward with stories of abuse by Savile, who used his work at the BBC and at hospitals, prisons and charities to conceal his wrongdoings.

BBC shows Jim’ll Fix It and Top of the Pops allowed Savile close contact with children for years, while it later emerged senior figures in the corporation had heard stories about his abuse, but were unwilling to act.

 (Shutterstock / Getty Images)
(Shutterstock / Getty Images)

Speaking in a statement, the Alan Partridge star said: “[Writer] Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively a horrific story which, however harrowing, needs to be told.”

Earlier this year, a survivor of Savile’s abuse recalled seeing Coogan in character for the first time.

As part of the duty of care in place for the drama, the production invited multiple survivors to the set in an attempt to convince them of the responsibility they felt in ensuring the story was told sensitively.

Sam Brown, one such survivor who was repeatedly abused by Savile as a child, spoke about what it was like seeing Coogan in character for the first time.

Brown told Deadline she knew she would be approached by Coogan after he had finished filming a scene in Cheshire, but was not prepared for the “powerful” reaction she’d have to seeing him.

Steve Coogan’s performance as Jimmy Savile has been described as ‘creepy’ (Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
Steve Coogan’s performance as Jimmy Savile has been described as ‘creepy’ (Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

“As he was walking towards me, in my head I was thinking, ‘No, go away.’ I kept thinking, ‘Go away.’”

Brown, who previously discussed the abuse she suffered in Netflix documentary Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story, said that seeing Coogan in character was “difficult”.

Brown described the actor’s performance as “creepy, weird, awful” and “disgusting.”

The report noted that Brown, who had been joined on set by her husband, was constantly told she had no obligation to meet Coogan.

She said that she had decided to go ahead with meeting the star because she felt it would help her in the long run, when The Reckoning is broadcast on the BBC later this year.

Sam Brown as featured in Netflix’s Jimmy Savile documentary in 2022 (Netflix)
Sam Brown as featured in Netflix’s Jimmy Savile documentary in 2022 (Netflix)

Brown said that Coogan had told her it took him six months to make the decision.

Brown commended the team behind The Reckoning, saying that writer McKay “has been so supportive”.

“We’ve been part of writing this story,” she said, adding: “Communication has been constant, it’s a very open forum between the whole crew. That’s the only way I will do these things now. With Neil, I could not have asked for any better.”

If you are a child and you need help because something has happened to you, you can call the NSPCC free of charge on 0800 1111. You can also call the NSPCC if you are an adult and you are worried about a child, on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) offers support for adults on 0808 801 0331

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.