'Insensitive' BBC blasted for Jimmy Savile drama schedule as it faces ratings war with ITV Yorkshire Ripper series

'Insensitive' BBC blasted for Jimmy Savile drama schedule as it faces ratings war with ITV Yorkshire Ripper series

WATCH NOW: The trailer for Jimmy Savile drama, The Reckoning

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 05/10/2023

- 11:09

Updated: 05/10/2023

- 16:20

The Reckoning will premiere on the BBC on Monday, October 9

The BBC has been criticised for its "ill-judged" scheduling decision ahead of the premiere of Jimmy Savile drama, The Reckoning.

Steve Coogan portrays the disgraced and reviled presenter as the series aims to, according to the Beeb, "explore how Savile used his celebrity and powerful connections to conceal his crimes and exploit institutional failings".

The four-part series has worked closely with a number of people affected by Savile's heinous actions and four survivors have contributed to the programme.

The BBC has promised to "ensure their [the victims'] experiences are told and reflected with sensitivity and respect, and the drama will also draw on extensive, wide-ranging research and published accounts".

However, the decision to commission such a show has been met with widespread disdain from a number of licence fee payers.

The drama has been branded "unnecessary" and been met by calls that it "should never have been made" by users of X, formerly known as Twitter, and now it faces fresh backlash for its start date.

Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile

Steve Coogan plays Jimmy Savile in BBC drama The Reckoning


The BBC has opted to put The Reckoning's first episode in the 9pm time slot on Monday, October 9.

This coincides with ITV's drama The Long Shadow, a series that focuses on the impact of the crimes carried out by Peter Sutcliffe in the 1970s.

The Long Shadow - which faced backlash itself due to a distracting issue with the first episode - premiered back in September and will air its third instalment of the series on the same night as Coogan debuts as Savile on screens.

Given ITV's serial killer drama began weeks before The Reckoning's transmission, the BBC has come under fire for pitting the Savile series against it.

A TV insider said of the decision: "This effectively brings together two of the biggest monsters of the 1970s and 80s simultaneously on Britain’s two biggest channels.

"This feels ill-judged and insensitive. Victims of both will wonder who at the BBC thought this would be a good idea," they told The Sun.

They added: "ITV1 can hardly be blamed as The Long Shadow started in the 9pm slot two weeks ago."

A BBC spokesperson told the publication: "We were unaware of any plans from ITV. We have long discussed this transmission date with the survivors."

GB News has contacted the BBC for comment on the scheduling decision.

David Morrissey

David Morrissey stars in the cast of ITV's The Long Shadow


Coogan - who himself recently came under fire alongside Carol Vorderman for anti-Tory tirades online - has publicly defended The Reckoning, however, claiming the BBC is "damned if they do or damned if they don't".

He told the Radio Times: "It is controversial and I understand that. The BBC are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, and I believe the correct choice is to be damned if they do.

"Broadly, it’s better to talk about something than not. The team had the right attitude and it was done with the cooperation of survivors.

"I think when it’s broadcast, it will vindicate itself," Coogan claimed.

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