A two part documentary with a combined running time of three hours, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is a damning expose of the eponymous eccentric TV and radio presenter.
Enormously popular with the British public from the 1960s until his death in 2011, friend of royalty (Prince Charles) and politicians (including Margaret Thatcher) who raised millions of pounds for charity, Savile was a sexual predator who abused hundreds of children and women. It’s a sickening litany of abuse with Savile using his position over decades to access his vicitms. But equally sickening is the level of protection he received from authorities.
Popularity and ‘good (charitable) work’ protected Savile – friends in the right places (high ranking police officers, senior BBC management, politicians) made him somewhat untouchable. This uneven documentary blows the lid on the open secret that was Jimmy Savile. Interviews with witnesses, victims, journalists, fomer colleagues, archival footage, revelations of ignored complaints: interviews with people genuinely surprised at the time by the revelations.
Rowan Deacon’s documentary is a distressing and uncomfortable encounter. Interviews describing the abuse, the disbelief of action not be followed through, the cancellation of the airing by the BBC of a tell-all documentary. As former Sunday Times editor, Andrew Neil, confesses – the media failed the British public. But the documentary is also over-indulgent, whereby the first episode shows the public face: the second the reveal. Did it need three hours?