Steve Coogan has defended upcoming Jimmy Savile drama The Reckoning in which he plays the sadistic paedophile.
Savile died in 2011 aged 84 before more than 450 horrifying allegations of sexual assault and abuse, with some victim as young as five, were brought to the police.
As soon as the BBC thriller was announced, critics were quick to call the four-part series ‘vulgar’ and ‘sinister’.
Coogan, 56, appeared on BBC Breakfast today to explain that while he ‘understands’ backlash towards The Reckoning, he stressed its importance.
‘With all these things you have to see it before you judge it,’ he told hosts Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt.
‘But I do understand the antipathy towards it because unlike David Tennant who played Dennis Nielsen or Dominic West who played Fred West, there wasn’t the same antagonism, even though their crimes were as horrific if not arguably more horrific but thee wasn’t the same sort of reaction.’
‘That’s because people personally feel like they were hoodwinked, the nation feels like it,’ he continued.
‘So there’s this strong, strange feeling towards it; one of wanting to put it behind us, not wanting to talk about it and as a rule I think it’s better to talk about it.’
Coogan insisted it was vital to try and explore how the monster got away with such disturbing crimes for so long, ‘how he was enabled, how people facilitated his behaviour’.
‘By not talking about it you don’t get to the nub of that and if you don’t look at it you’re destined for those things to happen again,’ he said.
‘The drama answers the question: how did he get away with it? The drama answers that question which is a very important one. ‘
Several of Savile’s victims actually visited the set of The Reckoning and have been working closely with writer Neil McKay to ‘ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect.’
On why the BBC wanted to tell the story, executive producer Jeff Pope explained: ‘We must understand why a man like Jimmy Savile seemed to remain immune for so long to proper scrutiny and criminal investigation.’
The Reckoning is expected to air on BBC One later this year.