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Steve Coogan’s performance as Jimmy Savile called ‘creepy’ and ‘disgusting’

A survivor of Jimmy Savile’s abuse has recalled seeing Steve Coogan in character for the first time.

Coogan plays the disgraced TV star in a new four-part BBC drama titled The Reckoning, which will dramatise Savile’s history of pedophila.

As part of the duty of care in place for the drama, which was written by Neil McKay and produced by Jeff Pope, the production invited numerous survivors to the set in an attempt to convince them of the responsibility they felt in ensuring the story was told sensitively.

One survivor, Sam Brown, has now revealed what it was like seeing Coogan in character as Savile. Brown was repeatedly abused by Savile as a child.

She told Deadline she knew she would be approached by Coogan after he had finished filming a scene in Cheshire, but was not prepared for the “powerful” reaction she’d have to seeing him.

“As he was walking towards me, in my head I was thinking, ‘No, go away.’ I kept thinking, ‘Go away.’”

Brown said that she thought she was keeping these thoughts in her head, but then realised she was speaking the words without realising she was doing so.

“Seemingly this wasn’t kept in my head,” she continued. “I was saying all of this and didn’t realise I was bloody saying it. I was so embarrassed.”

Brown, who previously discussed the abuse she suffered in Netflix documentary Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story, said that seeing Coogan’s in character was “difficult”.

She added: “The voice was the thing that gave me a proper shock, I’ve got to be honest. And I don’t get shocked by much anymore because I try my hardest not to – but that was difficult.”

Sam Brown featured in Netflix’s Jimmy Savile documentary in 2022 (Netflix)
Sam Brown featured in Netflix’s Jimmy Savile documentary in 2022 (Netflix)

Brown described the performance as “creepy, weird, awful” and “disgusting.”

The report notes that Brown, who was joined on set by her husband, was constantly told she had no obligation to meet Coogan. However, she said she decided she would as she believes it would have helped make it easier when The Reckoning is broadcast on the BBC later this year.

While speaking to the Alan Partridge actor, who was in costume as Savile, he “repeatedly reminded” Brown that he was just an actor wearing a costume. Brown also said that Coogan’s response to her question asking him why he decided to play Savile is what led to her permitting producers to use her story in the series.

“He said it took him six months to make his decision, talking back and forth with friends,” Brown told the outlet. “He said everyone had a strong point of view on whether he should.

“He answered in a way that I was comfortable with. Otherwise I would have just said, ‘It’s not for me then, just take my part out.’”

Steve Coogan’s performance as Jimmy Savile has been described as ‘creepy’ (Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
Steve Coogan’s performance as Jimmy Savile has been described as ‘creepy’ (Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

Brown commended the team behind The Reckoning, saying that wtier McKay “has been so supportive”.

“We’ve been part of writing this story,” she said, adding: “Communication has been constant, it’s a very open forum between the whole crew. That’s the only way I will do these things now. With Neil, I could not have asked for any better.”

The Independent has contacted the BBC for comment, but the corporation told Deadline: “The team are working closely with many people whose lives were impacted by Savile to ensure their stories are told and reflected with sensitivity and respect.”

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.