Rapscallion TV Review: The Reckoning.

They all knew – would have been a better title as there is no reckoning in The Reckoning. Sir Jimmy Savile OBE got away with it when he died a hero – only for the truth to come out shortly after his lavish funeral where he was lorded by the great and the good. The Radio One DJs, the staff at the BBC on Jim’ll Fix It and Top of the Pops, the head of the beeb Bill Cotton, producer Johnnie Stewart, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Prince Charles and a host of those in power or in powerful positions in broadcasting all knew and did nothing. They turned a blind eye saying it was ‘Jimmy being Jimmy’, didn’t care or saw him as someone who would help their careers or who could lend them some of his star dust.

The BBC’s four-part series The Reckoning written by Neil McKay and directed by Sandra Goldbacher is a chillingly created docudrama charting the hidden sex crimes of the one time Radio Luxembourg disc jockey. Steve Coogan as Savile gives a tour de force performance, creepily realistic and subtly menacing as he approaches children and women with thoughts of molestation and rape on his mind.

Framed by a series of fractious interviews over the years with the journalist Dan Davies (played by Mark Stanley) Savile is defensive, evasive and abusive with each chapter in his life recreated in vignettes of his rise and fall. They are intercut with interviews with his victims who now emboldened by his death speak movingly of the effect he had on their lives and those around them. The effect is highly emotive and moving and aided by the knowledge we all know about his crimes.

When he died, he had a huge send off – but as the victims came forward they were initially put down by his cronies but as the numbers grew the mood shifted. Allegations however had begun to damage his reputation and despite the farce of the cancelled News Night investigation into him, the truth was eventually out. But by then he was dead and had got away with it.

Neil McKay’s script takes aim at only those who knew about his behaviour but were dead. There are numerous scenes where Savile is slapped down by women while the camera concentrates on the tortured faces of the children and refrains from anything explicit. Many raise doubts about him, making complaints and insisting he’s a menace while those who had the power to act often did nothing.

The Reckoning finally gives his victims their voices and damns Savile’s legacy of charity work. However, those who are still alive who knew his character don’t have to confront the truth ln their part in aiding and abetting his rise to fame and fortune. There’s certainly no reckoning for them.

Harry Mottram

The programme is available on the BBC i-Player site.