The Reckoning — cast, plot and all about the drama starring Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile

Steve Coogan plays Jimmy Savile in 'The Reckoning' on BBC1 which will delve into the life and crimes of the evil TV star.
Steve Coogan plays Jimmy Savile in 'The Reckoning' on BBC1 which will delve into the life and crimes of the evil TV star. (Image credit: Getty)

The Reckoning on BBC1 will see Steve Coogan play predatory sex offender Jimmy Savile. The drama traces Jimmy Savile’s life, from his working-class early years in the dance halls of northern England to his presenting career with the BBC where he became one of TV’s biggest stars, hosting hit shows in the 1970s such as Top Of The Pops and Jim’ll Fix It. It also will look at how Savile's prolific sexual abuse of children was kept under wraps until after his death in 2011. 

"I think this is a story that has to be told," explains The Reckoning writer and executive producer Jeff Pope. "We must understand why a man like Jimmy Savile seemed to remain immune for so long to proper scrutiny and criminal investigation."

'The Reckoning' release date

As casting for The Reckoning has only started to be revealed, it does mean a BBC1 release date is quite far off, possibly late 2022 or 2023. We have no news either on a worldwide or US release date. We'll update as soon as we know more.

'The Reckoning' cast — Steve Coogan on playing Jimmy Savile

Steve Coogan has been cast as vile predator Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning. He revealed: "To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly. Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively a horrific story which — however harrowing — needs to be told."

Steve Coogan is well known for his comedy roles including comedy travelogue The Trip and fictional TV presenter Alan Partridge, most recently seen in This Is Alan Partridge. He's also starred in some hard-hitting drama series and movies, such as Stephen on ITV and Philomena (2013), alongside Dame Judi Dench.

The Reckoning star Steve Coogan (centre) as DCI Clive Driscoll in ITV's Stephen.

The Reckoning star Steve Coogan (centre) as DCI Clive Driscoll in ITV's Stephen. (Image credit: ITV)

'The Reckoning' locations and filming news

Filming of The Reckoning began from early October 2021 on location in and around Greater Manchester, starting in Bolton. There, scenes take place in Le Mans Crescent, alongside the former Bolton Magistrates Court building behind the town hall. The paved area has become well known for being a filming location in other hit TV dramas such as Peaky Blinders and It's A Sin

In November 2021, Steve Coogan was seen filming with a blond wig and maroon tracksuit on the beach at Rhos-on-Sea in North Wales. Film trucks and catering trailers had parked up at Llandudno's West Shore Beach café which was the unit base for location filming of The Reckoning.

'The Reckoning' — who was Jimmy Savile?

Savile rose to fame in the 1960s and in the 1970s was a popular radio DJ and TV presenter, who regularly hosted Top of the Pops and had his own long-running children’s teatime show Jim’ll Fix It, where he arranged for children’s wishes to come true. He was also known for his fundraising and support for charities and hospitals.

Why is Jimmy Savile so reviled?

The Reckoning will be a controversial watch, no matter what, as Jimmy Savile is so reviled. He's now considered to be one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders after hundreds of sexual abuse allegations were made against him after his death. It’s thought he used his fame and his involvement with the BBC, hospitals and charities to legitimize himself and his evil deeds. He was never prosecuted or jailed as he died in 2011 — before most of the allegations came out in late 2012.

In BBC1's The Reckoning, evil Jimmy Savile will be played by Steve Coogan.

In BBC1's 'The Reckoning', sexual predator Jimmy Savile (above) will be played by Steve Coogan. (Image credit: rinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo)

The BBC's justification for telling Jimmy Savile's story in 'The Reckoning'

The Reckoning team is working closely with many people whose lives were impacted by Savile and the drama series will also draw on extensive and wide-ranging research sources. "We don’t intend to sensationalize these crimes but to give voice to his victims," says controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger."We’ll work with survivors to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect."

At a later event showcasing BBC dramas, Piers Wenger said: "Our primary intention is to give a voice to the victims and tell stories with the utmost respect. Documentaries [on Savile] take you so far in showing the heinous and appalling nature of his crimes but I’ve yet to see one that shows how he was able to render his victims so powerless or hide in plain sight. I feel very confident this is a story that needs to be told and there is a public interest in it."

What other TV dramas is 'The Reckoning' writer Jeff Pope famous for?

The Reckoning writer Jeff Pope produced the BAFTA-winning series Appropriate Adult, which starred Dominic West as Fred West, as well as The Moorside, the series that told the story of the community impacted by the disappearance of Shannon Matthews. He also wrote ITV dramas such as Cilla, Little Boy Blue and A Confession.

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Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.