Shocking Jimmy Savile story revealed in Finsbury Park play

A new play chronicles the shocking story of sex predator Savile

A new play chronicles the shocking story of sex predator Savile - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

‘Were there people in showbusiness who knew he was ‘dodgy’? Absolutely’

Alistair McGowan stars as peadophile Jimmy Savile

Alistair McGowan stars as peadophile Jimmy Savile - Credit: Archant

A play chronicling the shocking exploits of vile sex predator Jimmy Savile is to be staged in Finsbury Park.

‘An Audience with Jimmy Savile’ launches at the Park Theatre, in Clifton Terrace, on June 11 for a month-long run.

Starring impressionist Alistair McGowan, the play is set in 1991 as a TV show celebrates the life of the recently knighted ‘Most Trusted Man In Britain’.

Jonathan Maitland, who wrote the play, said: “I’ve always had an appalled fascination for this and I hadn’t seen anything that fully explains how an extraordinarily prolific sex abuser – who was so in the public eye – managed to get away with it for 50 years.

Jonathan Maitland: 'Sexual harrasment was acceptable back then'

Jonathan Maitland: 'Sexual harrasment was acceptable back then' - Credit: Archant

“When I was at the BBC I had no inkling of it at all. Were there people at the BBC and in showbusiness who knew he was ‘dodgy’? Absolutely, but it’s about the definition of dodgy.

“What’s really interesting is that a lot of people at the BBC knew that he had a ‘loose lifestyle’ and I think – and this is clear from some of the reports as well – they filed it under the heading ‘harmless sexual harassment’. In those days sexual harassment, whether you like it or not, was kind of acceptable.”

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He added: “You get a few people on Twitter saying it’s just about money. It’s just extraordinary – with theatre, most things make a loss, this may end up costing us a load of money but it’s not about that.

“If in the unlikely event it makes a profit, we’d be very happy to and will give a substantial proportion of it to a fantastic charity called National Association for People Abused in Childhood.”

TV star Alistair McGowan, who plays Savile, said: “I can well understand the unease people might feel about a play like this.

“But I think there are some very strong reasons for doing it.

“It’s one of the most important stories of the last few years – it has changed attitudes to abuse in terms of policing and prosecution – but nothing I have seen yet has collated under one roof, as it were, a convincing answer to the questions everyone asks all the time: ‘How on earth did he get away with it for more than half a century?’

“‘How did he justify his crimes to himself?’ And ‘How did a shameless abuser pull the wool over the eyes of the BBC, the NHS, the Catholic Church, politicians, royalty and the British police?’

“I think it’s very much in the public interest to try to answer all those questions and theatre is the most effective way to do that.”

For the full interview with Jonathan Maitland, see next week’s What’s On section.

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