STEVE COOGAN has been cast as disgraced TV presenter and predatory sex offender Jimmy Savile in a new BBC One drama entitled The Reckoning.
The miniseries will chart Savile's rise in the show business industry and examine how he exploited his status to both abuse his victims and cover up his crimes.
Second-generation Irishman Coogan admits it was a tough decision to accept the role, but he and director Sandra Goldbacher both felt it was important to give Savile's victims a voice.
The once-respected presenter and charity fundraiser died in 2011 before his crimes were exposed, with two investigations during his lifetime dropped due to lack of evidence.
"To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly," said Coogan.
"[Writer and producer] Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively an horrific story which — however harrowing — needs to be told."
Coogan is best known for his comedy work, including his creation Alan Partridge, but has tackled serious roles in the past.
He won acclaim for his portrayal of journalist Martin Sixsmith in Philomena, the true story of an Irish woman searching for the son she was forced to give up by nuns at a Magdalene laundry.
Goldbacher added: "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."
Following Savile's death, hundreds of allegations against him surfaced, involving victims ranging from age five to 75.
The deluge of accusations led to the setting up of Operation Yewtree to investigate his and others' alleged offences.
A subsequent report by the police and the NSPCC reported 214 alleged offences by Savile stretching back half a century, which were subsequently recorded as crimes.
Then Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, announced an investigation into why proceedings against Savile in 2009 were dropped.
Shining a light on Savile
Executive Producer Jeff Pope, who worked with McKay on acclaimed dramas The Moorside and Appropriate Adult, said the miniseries would explore how Savile was able to get away with his crimes, some of which were carried out in hospitals and at the BBC.
"The purpose of this drama is to explore how Savile's offending went unchecked for so long, and in shining a light on this, to ensure such crimes never happen again," he said.
"Steve Coogan has a unique ability to inhabit complex characters and will approach this role with the greatest care and integrity."