BBC sparks outrage as it releases first photo of Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in upcoming series

Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile

Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in the BBC's The Reckoning

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 18/08/2023

- 12:44

Updated: 18/08/2023

- 12:45

The Alan Partridge star will portray the reviled entertainer in a four-part drama for the Beeb

The Reckoning is an upcoming drama series at the BBC that will revisit the life of Jimmy Savile, played by Steve Coogan in the series.

According to the Beeb, the series will "explore how Savile used his celebrity and powerful connections to conceal his crimes and exploit institutional failings".

The broadcaster has outlined its hopes that the drama will also "highlight the importance of confronting the horrors of the past" in an attempt to encourage others to talk openly about abuse.

News of the series first broke back in 2020 when Coogan was confirmed to be taking on the role of Savile.

Controversy has surrounded the project from writer Neil McKay ever since, although the BBC insists it has "worked closely with many people whose lives were impacted by Savile to ensure their experiences are told and reflected with sensitivity and respect".

It added that the series will include contributions from four survivors who'll be interviewed on-camera to provide insight.

The four will "reflect on their experiences in the hope that the telling of their stories will prevent something like it happening again".

Jimmy Savile

Jimmy Savile died in 2011


Despite the fact the Beeb has managed to get survivors to contribute to the series, a number of people have slammed the network for going forward with the project in the first place.

And these feelings were only heightened further by seeing the first official image of Coogan in character.

The photo shared by the BBC shows Coogan's Savile sitting in an armchair alone in a room while holding a cigar.

Coogan is wearing Savile's famous red tracksuit and has donned his shoulder-length grey locks for the role.

As the photo circulated on social media, one Twitter user hit out: "What the actual f*** no just no."

A second took aim at the actor as they slammed: "Why Coogan is starring in this is beyond me. It’s not a good look!"

Meanwhile, a third added: "Who in their right mind would want to watch this or even star in it for that matter."

While a fourth furiously hit out: "This film shouldn't be made. Nobody should profit from anything to do with that sick freak. Unreal any actor would agree to play him."

"Urgh...why though," a fifth added while a sixth bluntly put: "I can't imagine anyone needing this."

Steve Coogan

Steve Coogan will play the disgraced entertainer


The Reckoning has also come under fire from Savile's other victims despite some being involved in bringing the project to screens.

One victim who was abused by Savile when just a girl told The Sun: "The idea of making a drama out of Savile's life, for the purpose of entertainment, is so distasteful and distressing.

"I hold the BBC partly responsible for my abuse – many people knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it.

"To find out the same organisation is now planning to use these events to gain ratings is unacceptable. It's almost like being abused again."

A release date for The Reckoning is yet to be confirmed.

Coogan will be joined in the cast by Gemma Jones, Siobhan Finneran, Mark Lewis Jone, and Mark Stanley.

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