The mini-series, which was written by Neil McKay, will explore how the late Top of the Pops host was able to commit his crimes unchecked for decades.
After his death in 2011, hundreds of survivors came forward with stories of abuse by Savile, who used his work at the BBC and at hospitals, prisons and charities to conceal his wrongdoings.
Producers are working with many people whose lives were affected by Savile “to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect”.
“To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly,” Coogan said in a statement. “Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively a horrific story which, however harrowing, needs to be told.”
Many people have condemned the new drama, arguing that it exploits Savile’s hundreds of victims.
“Could go my whole life without seeing a drama series on this,” tweeted one Twitter user. “Given the Savile victims were vulnerable children & I have no doubt this still affects them now also probably many who didn’t speak out, who needs to see this misery.”
Another wrote: “Here’s a mad thought. Maybe the world doesn’t need a Jimmy Savile biopic? Maybe we could just respect the victims and stop talking about the rotten old f***er?”
Many have also accused the BBC of hypocrisy for commissioning the programme. BBC shows Jim’ll Fix It and Top of the Pops allowed Savile close contact with children for years, while senior figures in the corporation heard the stories about him but were unwilling to act and junior employees witnessed his predatory behaviour first-hand.
In 2011, immediately after Savile’s death, two Newsnight reporters began to investigate the stories of abuse, interviewing victims, BBC employees and a former police detective. Their report was scheduled for broadcast in December 2011, but was cancelled on the basis that it would interfere with the shows planned to celebrate Savile over the Christmas period.
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“Seriously??? Too f***ing soon, especially after the corporation effectively sheltered the psychopath for decades,” tweeted one person.
“Steve Coogan is apparently playing Jimmy Saville in an upcoming BBC series. Should interesting to see if the BBC skip over the part where they knew what he was doing and did nothing for 40 years,” added another.
A release date for The Reckoning has yet to be announced.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.