The Reckoning: Steve Coogan pictured as Jimmy Savile for first time on set of controversial series

Actor says decision to play disgraced former TV host was not one he ‘took lightly’

<p>The 55-year-old was spotted dressed as a jester while wearing a blonde wig while filming for the series in Bolton, Manchester</p>

The 55-year-old was spotted dressed as a jester while wearing a blonde wig while filming for the series in Bolton, Manchester

Steve Coogan has been pictured dressed as Jimmy Savile for the first time on set for the controversial forthcoming BBC drama, The Reckoning.

The mini-series, which will focus on Savile’s long history of sexual abuse, began filming on Friday (8 November) in Manchester.

The 55-year-old actor, known for his role as Alan Partridge, was spotted dressed as a jester while wearing a blonde wig while filming for the series in Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Coogan has previously said his decision to play the disgraced Top of the Pops host, who it emerged after his death was a prolific paedophile and sex offender, was not one he “took lightly”.

He said in a statement: “Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively a horrific story which, however harrowing, needs to be told.”

Director Sandra Goldbacher said: “The Reckoning is a unique opportunity to give Savile’s survivors, the people who inspired this project, a voice.

“I feel sure that Steve Coogan’s powerful performance as Savile will create a debate around how the cult of celebrity cloaked him from scrutiny.”

The BBC’s decision to commission this series has come under scrutiny from some who accused the corporation of hypocrisy.

BBC shows Jim’ll Fix It and Top of the Pops allowed Savile close contact with children for years, while it later emerged senior figures in the corporation had heard stories about his abuse, but were unwilling to act.

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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.

However, Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, said the producers will “work with survivors to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect”.

He said: “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.”

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.

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