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"The Reckoning" - A Gripping and Harrowing Drama

"The Reckoning" - A Gripping and Harrowing Drama

23 October 2023

Gregory Devine

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Jimmy Savile was a monster. I refused to call him a man because he simply wasn’t human. Many people my age (21) know about Jimmy Savile but before I watched this BBC drama, I wasn’t fully aware of the scale of the atrocities this vile creature committed.

Jimmy Savile at the Leeds Marathon in 1982

The BBC has come under a lot of criticism for making the drama, but I actually believe this was really important. We cannot forget about Jimmy Savile so that we don’t let anything like this ever happen again. The issue is many young people don’t really know about him. We’ve heard of him, and we all know he was a pedophile, but I don’t think many young people are even close to being aware of just how bad this was.

The drama feels eerily real. Steve Coogan's acting in the show is perfect. Whenever he’s on screen it makes your hair stand on its ends, it sends a harrowing shiver down your spine. At times, especially in the first 2 episodes, I found myself retching at what I was watching. I genuinely found myself wanting to be sick. That didn’t make me want to turn the series off though. I almost felt a duty to watch the entire series to educate myself on what this monster did. I felt I had to do it so his victims wouldn’t be forgotten.

Each episode starts and ends with recounts from three survivors of Jimmy Savile. They remind you this is very real. These were children who had their lives ruined. The first episode explores Savile as a DJ and how he used his power to abuse children around Leeds and Manchester. I had no idea how much influence he had even before he became a national celebrity. Before you first see him abusing children you see him abusing staff in one of his clubs. The young man goes to the police, but Savile is well-respected by them. It’s important context before seeing his truly vile crimes take place.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the drama for me surrounds his mother. I found myself on somewhat of a rollercoaster regarding my opinions on his mother whom Jimmy calls” The Duchess”. I found myself angry with her for not doing more to stop him when I felt she knew what was happening but then also found myself feeling upset for what is an old frail woman, also being manipulated by him. She’s a devout catholic and we see her often in confession. In the end, at least from my own understanding, it seems she knew God would be the final judge of him and whilst yes, she could’ve and should’ve gone to the police, this was her son.

One criticism I do have of the drama is its failure to point out just how catastrophic the BBC and NHS’s actions, or lack thereof, were. They show a brief investigation by the BBC that returns no conclusive evidence but don’t dive deeper into the people who let him get away with it for so long. To me, it conveyed that these people who should also hold some responsibilities were equally groomed by Savile. Except they weren’t groomed. They had some inkling of what was happening yet did nothing about it. They didn’t explore the greed of the BBC enough here, instead almost trying to make them out as innocent.

The failures of the Police were also brushed under the carpet. They show the police siding with Savile against a nightclub worker apart from that there’s one other scene where one of his victims has the courage to go to the police. They interview Savile but find no evidence. It’s just left at that. On one hand, I suppose it shows a true account of how little institutions did to stop Savile but on the other hand, it feels like the drama went a little soft on these people who knew what was happening yet chose to do nothing about it.

Should you watch The Reckoning? It really does depend. I would encourage my parents and older family members who know the horrors of Savile to steer away from the drama. They already know what happened and seeing it dramatised may come across as quite disrespectful. That being said, I think anybody under the age of 30 must watch this. You must educate yourself. You need to be aware of the true volume of his crimes and the extensive amount of time he was allowed to do this. Some things, despite them being truly horrid, we mustn’t forget. Jimmy Savile is one of those. We must remember so something like this cannot happen again.

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