‘Will they detail their part in turning a blind eye?’: BBC criticised over new Jimmy Savile TV drama

Jacob Stolworthy
·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The BBC has come under fire for deciding to make a new TV drama about the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal.

BBC One will broadcast the series that will chart the presenter’s career and history of sexual abuse that only emerged after he died in 2011.

Savile was a presenter of several popular BBC show and, in 2016, a report found that he carried out sex attacks on 72 victims in “virtually every one of the BBC premises in which he worked”.

The same report also found that there was no evidence of BBC bosses being aware of the scandal, but said some junior and middle-ranking staff knew of Savile’s “inappropriate sexual behaviour”.

In total, 117 witnesses who had worked at the BBC had “heard rumours” of Savile's activities.

Speaking about the new series, executive producer Jeff Pope said it was “a story that has to be told”.

While many people agreed, they expressed uncertainty over whether the BBC should be the channel to broadcast the series.

One concerned TV viewer wrote: “The BBC doing a drama about the Jimmy Savile scandal would be like the Nazis doing a drama about the Holocaust.”

Another added: “Will they detail their part in turning a blind eye?”

A report found that 117 witnesses who had worked at the BBC ‘heard rumours of Savile’s activitiesRex Features
A report found that 117 witnesses who had worked at the BBC ‘heard rumours of Savile’s activitiesRex Features

One other tweeter called it “vile self-serving stuff”, with somebody suggesting the drama would “sanitise” the corporation’s involvement in the scandal.

No actor is yet attached to play the role of Savile.

BBC drama controller Piers Wenger said that the BBC “will work with survivors to ensure their stories are told with sensitivity and respect and to examine the institutions which Jimmy Savile was associated with and the circumstances in which these crimes took place”.

The Independent has contacted the BBC for additional comment.

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