Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story

TV star Jimmy Savile charmed a nation with his eccentricity and philanthropy. But sexual abuse allegations expose a shocking unseen side of his persona.

Year: 2022
Certificate: 18
Runtime: Limited Series (2hr 50min total)

Information Page: https://www.newonnetflix.info/info/81520549

I grew up watching “Jim’ll Fix It” in the 1980’s and always dreamed of going on the show – I never wrote in though. However, a childhood family friend went on it once to drive an articulated lorry. Growing up, that’s really my only memory of the TV and radio personality. Fast forward 30 years and my eyes were well and truly opened…

For those who didn’t grow up in the UK, Jimmy Savile was a radio DJ and TV personality who always seemed to be doing his bit for charity. He was certainly eccentric and somewhat peculiar, but he did lots of charity work and fundraising – he was, for all intents and purposes, a household name in the UK. However, behind the facade were decades of sexual abuse towards children – often those in his care (he volunteered in hospitals, care homes etc) and even during some of his TV shows. But the full extent of his abuse didn’t fully come to light until his death in 2011.

“Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story” is a 2-part limited series with a total runtime of just under 3 hours. The first part chronicles his rise to fame during the 1960s and, in a somewhat strange take, seems to actually celebrate him. However, there are a number of clever edits where phrases Savile said are used in such a way as to his boldness. He often said on live TV about how he prefers the young blonde girls and even said, and I paraphrase, I’m a tricky person – and tricky people don’t get caught. The scariest thing about the first episode is how often he seemed to be dropping hints about his sexual abuse to TV interviewers – yet no one seemingly acted on this. One specific scene that springs to mind was when he was at the bedside of a young boy who had drawn a photo of a monster and said it was Jimmy Savile. Savile then joked about it saying “this is supposed to be me, what have I ever done to you to deserve this?” to which the boy replied solemnly: “Everything”.

Towards the end of the first half of “Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story” the tone changes dramatically and we move away from his rise to fame and the people around him to more specific acts of abuse. Initially I wondered why so much time was spent essentially praising Savile for his charity works but that’s exactly the point they were trying to make. He got away with the abuse because he was a famous face and people trusted him. How could a man that raised millions for charities possibly do something wrong? He was friends with the Royal Family, afterall!

The second half does go into more detail about his victims and how his secrets were finally exposed but, overall, I was left feeling a bit… empty? There was no mention of the BBC’s investigation which, I recall at the time, was a huge story; there was little focus on the victims and how they have managed to survive and move on with their life – if they even have. Instead, the documentary focuses, in my opinion, a bit too much on the money he raised but equally without that background I suspect it would have been hard for an international audience to understand how he got away with so much abuse. As I mentioned earlier, Jimmy Savile was a household name across the UK – and it’s that status that allowed him to get away with his horrific crimes for so long.

While I do feel that “Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story” has its shortcomings, I did find it interesting, as well as horrific, to watch. There were a lot of things I never knew about such as his interview with the police about the sexual abuse claims and, scariest of all, the number of hints he dropped in interviews about his abuse – although hindsight is a wonderful thing. It is certainly worth watching but don’t expect anything too deep or for any new revelations. If you’re from the UK then you probably know most of it – but the documentary is well structured and carefully edited throughout.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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One thought on “Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story

  1. Personally I always disliked Savile even as a child. I didn’t watch his shows as he seemed odd & made me very uncomfortable. This isn’t to say I had any idea how sick and depraved he was. I just wasn’t surprised when the revelations came out. The show Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story was historically interesting but failed to show how such a high profile case has changed child protection in the UK for the better. Although I still see damage done to society and especially youngsters through celebrities using social media for political and product influencing. I could give you a few names of clearly ignorant celebrities peddling life style choices and plans mixed in with pseudo psychological mantras almost like a cult to make money and hold influence over people. One of the most disturbing aspects of this show was the cover ups and the blind eyes turned to avoid being dragged into confrontation with him or cost charities and income.

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