The Reckoning is a meticulously crafted and refined item. It starts in 1962, when Savile’s career as a DJ on the northern club scene started to take off, and it follows him through his years as a progressively popular and influential figure on radio and later television, up until his much-belated death in 2011 at the age of 84, when he was spared and left unharmed by any disclosure of his terrible secrets.
The drama includes quite a lot of old footage of the actual Savile. It’s a curious choice to end your story and remind readers that reality and the man who lived it were stranger than fiction.
The Reckoning shows how Savilew terrorizes, abuses, and rapes girls, young women, and occasionally young men—at home, in clubs, in hospitals, or anywhere else. That specific moment of horror, when a man “turns,” the air becomes electrified, and the impending victim realizes the terrible reality and abrupt threat, is not something I have seen many dramas that execute so well. Notably, it accomplishes this with virtually no depiction of the actual events.
Coogan plays the part brilliantly. He is a skilled impressionist and actor, and playing Savile allows him to combine the two in the ideal ratio. Without ever straying even close to caricature, he perfectly portrays the mannerisms, the voice, and the atmosphere. He reveals to us the layers of charm and evil that alternate depending on who is there and what he wants from them. At other times, he exposes the core of pure wickedness, in whose service they are all employed. Beyond all else, Coogan was destined to play creepy. Coogan possesses a chilly, calculated demeanor that he can readily turn into terror. His biggest strength, as demonstrated by Paul Calf, Alan Partridge, and most recently, Chivalry, is spooky. (Partridge is the unusual non-sexual creep, but only because he is unable to function as a proper predator due to his deep-seated fears.
As far as it is concerned, The Reckoning is flawless, yet opinions regarding those boundaries will determine how it is received. The Thatcherite Conservative party, the NHS, and the Roman Catholic church are the organizations most unsettled by the scenario, which revolves around two sexual attacks that occur in a vestry during mass to the accompaniment of eucharistic prayers.
The BBC, on the other hand, appears to face less harsh reality. In the 1960s and 1970s, managers are depicted attempting to hold Savile accountable, but they are blocked by his lawyers and lies. Although such investigations were conducted, the way they were written and their prominence may give the impression that the BBC was more thorough than many people realize. Presenter excess is essentially attributed to the ratings-hungry Sir Bill Cotton, the BBC chairman who, coincidentally, has been deceased longer than Savile.
The drama’s development demands that Savile play a shattered, resentful old man in a scene from the last Top of the Pops recording in 2006, who is upset about being a BBC bit-player. Though a separate Scotland Yard investigation revealed a sexual assault on a child during the recording, the review led by Dame Janet Smith into the BBC and Savile describes a sexual assault carried out by the then 79-year-old presenter on an employee during rehearsals (I reported that incident to the BBC in 2006).
It is evident that the play had to select which scenes to include, but leaving out these episodes would imply that Savile’s BBC involvement was a long time ago. Following the press screening, McKay and Pope were questioned about the historical focus and the dramatization of the abandoned Newsnight investigation into Savile in 2011, which unintentionally resulted in ITV revealing his crimes.
In response, they said the plots would constitute a “whole separate drama.” The BBC’s director of programming, Charlotte Moore, need to commission it from Pope and McKay right away so that people connected to Savile’s later years at the organization—some of whom are still collecting salary and pensions from the license holder—can face consequences.
On October 9, at 9 p.m., BBC One will broadcast The Reckoning on BBC Iplayer from 09/10/2023