James McAvoy denies claim that he would play Jimmy Savile on the big screen


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The Independent Culture

Actor James McAvoy has denied the claim that he would play disgraced TV presenter Jimmy Savile if novelist Irvine Welsh ever wrote a script about the sex predator.

In an interview in the Radio Times, Welsh said that while making Filth, which stars McAvoy, he discussed the topic of child abuse in the wake of the Savile scandal with the Scottish actor. Welsh told the magazine that McAvoy told him: "If you ever write a script about it, I'd love to play Jimmy Savile."

However, McAvoy's spokeswoman said: "James did not make that statement. He has never expressed interest in playing the role of Jimmy Savile."

The Trainspotting author focused on the subject of sexual abuse in his 1996 collection Ecstasy. One of the stories, 'Lorraine Goes to Livingston', concerns Freddy Royle, a fictional children's TV presenter described as the nation's "favourite caring, laconic uncle", who turns out to be a child molester and necrophiliac, raising millions for the hospital where he commits his crimes.

The story was written over 15 years before Savile's crimes became public.

Asked whether the similarities were based on inside knowledge, Welsh told the Radio Times: "I had nothing to do with the hospital services, or NHS trusts, or the BBC.

"So how come I knew this rumour about Jimmy Savile, this eccentric British institution? There must have been so much stuff on the grapevine. But there was a whole culture then of not addressing these issues."

Welsh said that he was groped by middle-aged women when, as a student in the late 70s, he worked in a bingo hall.

He said that he believed such abusive behaviour was "all about power".