Steve Coogan says filming Jimmy Savile drama was "very difficult"

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Steve Coogan on "very difficult" Jimmy Savile roleDavid M. Benett - Getty Images

Steve Coogan has revealed that it was "very difficult" to play Jimmy Savile in drama The Reckoning.

The actor, most famous for his comedic role as Alan Partridge, played the disgraced television presenter in the BBC drama alongside Happy Valley star Siobhan Finneran, Gentleman Jack's Gemma Jones, Andor actor Robert Emms and Euphoria's Mark Stanley.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Coogan shared how challenging the experience was in portraying one of the most reviled figures in British history. "It was very difficult sometimes," he said.

steve coogan as jimmy saville, the reckoning

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Adding: "There were a lot of young actors playing victims, young women, and I was very cognisant between takes to be Steve Coogan again as quickly as possible when they said cut."

Coogan went on to say that he was relieved when he was finally able to hang up the character's costume for good. "I was very pleased the last day of filming, because I thought I'll never have to dress as him again," he explained.

Detailing the measures he had to take in order to become Savile, Coogan revealed: "I had to shave my head during the whole process. I had to shave my head for two or three months.

steve coogan as jimmy savile, the reckoning

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"They said if you shave your head, because the make-up took two or three hours when I was playing him as an old man, they said it'll save you an hour in the chair. I thought one hour less being that person is welcome."

Written by Four Lives' Neil McKay, the four-part BBC drama aired earlier this month (October 2023). Since the show's announcement, the BBC was heavily criticised over whether Savile's crimes should be retold in a drama series.

Coogan, however, did defend the programme, telling prospective viewers to "see it before you judge it".

The Reckoning is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

Rape Crisis England and Wales work towards the elimination of all forms of sexual violence and sexual misconduct. If you've been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland's helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.

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