BBC One has commissioned a high-profile TV drama on the infamous British sexual predator Jimmy Savile, who terrorized his victims in the corridors and dressing rooms of the British broadcaster.
ITV Studios’ BAFTA-winning true-crime specialist Jeff Pope is overseeing the project, which has the working title The Reckoning. It will trace Savile’s life from his working-class roots, to his rise to TV stardom as a BBC presenter, and his later years when he managed to keep his reign of sexual abuse concealed until after his death in 2011.
The BBC said Pope’s team is working closely with many people whose lives were impacted by Savile to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect. His work as a presenter at the BBC enabled him to abuse 72 people, according to a 2016 investigation. Eight were raped and 11 victims were under the age of 12.
It’s a sensitive subject for the BBC, which was home to his predatory, and was at the eye of a storm when the allegations about Savile exploded into the public domain in 2012. The BBC’s decision not to broadcast a Newsnight investigation into Savile ultimately cost former director general George Entwistle his job, just 54 days after he succeeded Mark Thompson.
Pope, said: “I think this is a story that has to be told. We must understand why a man like Jimmy Savile seemed to remain immune for so long to proper scrutiny and criminal investigation.”
BBC drama controller Piers Wenger added: “The story of Jimmy Savile is one of the most emotive and troubling of our times. We do not intend to sensationalise these crimes but to give voice to his victims.
“We will work with survivors to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect and to examine the institutions which Jimmy Savile was associated with and the circumstances in which these crimes took place. Drama has the ability to tackle sensitive real life subjects and consider the impact of a crime on its survivors and what lessons can be learnt to stop this ever happening again.”
Pope will work with long-time collaborator Neil McKay on The Reckoning. Their previous, critically acclaimed true-crime series include Appropriate Adult, which depicted serial killer Fred West, and The Moorside, which told the story of the community impacted by the disappearance of Shannon Matthews.
McKay is writing and executive producing the show. Pope executive produces for ITV Studios, while Lucy Richer is the executive producer for the BBC.