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The BBC’s new drama points to The Reckoning we long for

The Reckoning is the BBC’s recent four-part drama narrating the rise and fall of DJ, television personality, charity fundraiser, practising Catholic, and sexual predator, Sir Jimmy Savile.

Steve Coogan embodies the glamour of Savile’s public persona and the menace of his intimate moments. We are given glimpses of a terrified loneliness behind the eyes and a superstitious religiosity used to convince the world – and himself – that all was forgivable.

Savile’s faith, as well performed as it is, is not one I would recognise. Jesus is only seen hanging on a cross – more a spectre of death than an emblem of redemption. And in death, Savile believes his own reckoning will come. His gamble is that God will allow his credentials to outweigh his crimes.

Interviews with Savile’s victims have not only informed The Reckoning’s script, but also bookend the episodes. Their testimony, acted and interviewed, is as sickening as it is compelling. Unsettling questions are raised for those responsible for the governance of hospitals, care homes, and broadcast institutions. This series wants to be their reckoning as well.

Indeed, reviews of the show have scrutinised the BBC’s decision to broadcast it in the first place, questioning how Savile could ever again be packaged as ‘entertainment’.

But this is not entertainment for entertainment’s sake. As a viewer, I found it impossible not to have my stomach churned by the string of questions implied yet left unanswered. What sense are we to make of the £40 million Savile raised for charity? The lives Jim fixed with it? Public opinion of Savile is now firmly settled, but did he escape justice? And did those who (wittingly or unwittingly) enabled his actions, escape it, too?

The lack of reckoning is, paradoxically, the most disquieting feature of the whole drama.

And that disquiet reveals my longing for perfect justice that now only God can deliver. I need to believe that one day all that is hidden will be brought into the light (Matthew 10:27).

In the meantime, I look to Jesus on that cross. Not as a reminder of my mortality, but to see the one through whom – in both his death and life – God’s perfect justice is made manifest.

In turn, Jesus looks to me. He calls me to amplify the voices of victims. To confront those who use their position to exploit. And to herald the good news that the final reckoning will, one day, come.

Tim Yearsley
Head of Innovation, LICC

 

 

Comments

  1. Excellent commentary. I don’t have the stomach to watch this, but your reflections on Saville’s ‘faith’, the irony of his ‘fixing it’ for some, against the wake of devastation and trauma he left behind in the lives of so many, and the need and longing for perfect justice, is keenly felt by many, and eagerly awaited. Maranatha!

    By Lesley Tate  -  3 Nov 2023
  2. Good piece thank you. Yes a very disquieting watch (brilliantly done by BBC) and as you say lots of unanswered questions as well as the sense he did completely wriggle away from any sense of justice in this world and left a trail of complete carnage in his wake. What I found very powerful in the drama was that he could not come to that point of actually confessing what he’d done wrong – he got close several times and had some real opportunities with two separate priests as well as the biographer, but he just couldn’t do it. For me, it brought 1 John 1, 8-10 sharply into focus. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

    By Philip Mills  -  3 Nov 2023
  3. Very helpful, thank you. We did watch it. Having lived through those times it causes me to reflect on why that niggling voice of ‘There’s something odd…..’ that many of us had, got suppressed by the culture of the time and the sheer bravado of the man. God forgive us.
    And where is it happening now?

    By Chris Edmonds  -  16 Nov 2023

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