The Reckoning: Steve Coogan praised for dramatic acting skills as Jimmy Savile

The Alan Partridge star surprised fans with his performance as the serial child abuser in the new BBC drama.

Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning
Steve Coogan has won praise for his performance as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning (BBC)

Steve Coogan has won praise for his dramatic acting as sexual predator Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning.

The Alan Partridge star surprised fans with his performance in the new BBC drama about the TV and radio presenter who used his celebrity status to repeatedly abuse children.

Many viewers were used to seeing comedian and impersonator Coogan in comedy roles, particularly his alter ego Alan Partridge.

Read more: The Reckoning: Steve Coogan hopes Jimmy Savlle drama will prevent abuse from 'happening again'

So there was some surprise at the contrast of the Night At The Museum star's "chilling" performance as serial child abuser Savile, as well as high praise for acting skills.

Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning(BBC)
Alan Partridge fans were surprised to see Steve Coogan in a dramatic role in The Reckoning. (BBC)

One viewer shared on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter: "It’s hard to believe this is the bloke who “was” Alan Partridge. Steve Coogan’s portrayal of Jimmy Saville is simply extraordinary. Chilling."

Another exclaimed: "Binge watched The Reckoning on iPlayer. An absolutely epic performance of Jimmy Saville by Steve Coogan. Total mastery, couldn’t separate the actor from the part. Sobering."

Sir Jimmy Savile at Glasgow Central Station October 1997
Sir Jimmy Savile (photographed here in 1997) used his fame to abuse vulnerable people. (PA/Alamy)

One observed: "What a brave decision Steve Coogan made to take on the portrayal of this vile, depraved individual and his performance is so spine chillingly convincing it makes your skin crawl. Awards for his portrayal and courage should be forthcoming. #TheReckoning"

And another said: "Steve Coogan has delivered the acting performance of the year in #TheReckoning. His Savile is skin-crawlingly creepy, note perfect in sound and gesture, and totally believable. A genuinely extraordinary tour de force. BAFTA incoming, surely."

Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge in This Time.
Steve Coogan is most famous for his comedy persona, TV presenter Alan Partridge. ( BBC)

A lot of viewers agreed it was uncomfortable watching.

One posted: "Watching The Reckoning and the way Steve Coogan portrays Jimmy Savile is incredible. Everything about how spot on he gets it makes your skin crawl and your stomach churn. The look, voice, attitudes, everything. I can't even imagine how hard it must've been to play that role."

Another wrote: "Started watching The Reckoning last night, it was that good I ended up watching the next episode on iPlayer. Steve Coogan's portrayal of Jimmy Savile (capturing Savile's mannerisms and voice) is stunning. It's a hard watch and makes your skin crawl."

Steve Coogan  as Jimmy Savile in The Reckoning
Many viewers found The Reckoning hard to watch as Coogan was so frightening as Savile. (BBC)

But for some viewers the drama was a step too far - for what they saw as making entertainment based on Savile's crimes and unnecessarily dragging up the past for his victims.

One X viewer said: "#TheReckoning I actually think Steve Coogan did an excellent job in portraying Saville. What I find unnerving is that the #BBC would give that sick evil pedophile scumbag more airtime!"

And another declared: "No hate to Steve Coogan but I'm not sure releasing a Jimmy Savile biopic while he's only been dead a decade and his victims are still alive is in great taste."

Co-writer and actor Steve Coogan arrives at the Premiere of
Steve Coogan has earned critical acclaim for his many dramatic roles, and was Oscar-nominated for his screenplay on Philomena. (AFP/Getty)

After the Top Of The Pops and Jim'll Fix It presenter died in 2011 at the aged of 84, more than 450 allegations of sexual abuse emerged against him, with victims as young as five-years-old.

This led to Operation Yewtree, a British police investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Savile, and other British celebrities who abused their position of power to target victims and hid in plain sight - with their fame intimidating accusers from coming forward.

Read more: Steve Coogan defends Jimmy Savile drama: We can't sweep it under carpet

Neil McKay, the series’ writer and one of its executive producers, said that he spoke to dozens of Savile’s victims, four of whom appear in the series and supported its creation.

Watch: Steve Coogan admitted he had some reservations about taking on the role of Jimmy Savile