Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story review – home-grown horror no one could make up

By Kira Comerford
Published: April 6, 2022 (Last updated: January 16, 2023)
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Netflix docuseries Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story


However you may feel about anything else you see here, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story eliminates all doubt that the man was a predatory monster with absolutely no limitations.

Netflix docuseries Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story was released on the streaming service on April 6, 2022.

Netflix has released Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story, a two-part documentary series charting the serial pedophile and sex offender’s rise through the ranks of British celebrity, and the crimes that ran parallel to it.

As mentioned in some of the archive footage featured in the documentary, this really is the kind of horror even Stephen King himself would struggle to write. Whilst the world now knows -0 and has done for some time — about Jimmy Savile and the hundreds of horrific acts he committed throughout his life, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story draws attention to how the man very intentionally positioned himself in such a way he could commit his crimes with ease and minimise his chances of getting caught. 

The documentary is split into two parts that explore who Savile was in terms of his presenting career, charity work and life in general, and what he did parallel to all three. It did feel as though a third and final act was missing; something that trawled through how he managed to get away with the things he did and the cover-ups that went on to enable that as these are many of the questions the viewer is left with after watching. What Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story did very well in a disturbing sort of way is give a sense of the sheer scale on which Savile was able to operate, in relation to numbers of offences, the period of time over which they took place, and the geographical area they covered. There was no level he wouldn’t stoop to, and absolutely nothing was beneath him. However, it never really attempted to answer how or why he essentially got away with it, which I think is the documentary people really want to see here. 

What it did cover was very thought-provoking. The archive footage of Savile himself makes for uncomfortable viewing. The benefit of the knowledge we have now makes it seem as though he was goading the nation about what he was doing away from the cameras. It was like it was there for everyone to see if only they had wanted to see it. Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story’s exploration into Savile as an individual was equally as unsettling. It’s clear that he had an immense self-awareness when it came to his position and how he was perceived. He knew that coming across in the right way would afford him every protection in the world; the freedom to do whatever he wanted without consequence. The reputation that he crafted for himself, that in turn other people crafted with him and for him made him untouchable, and to bad-mouth him would only bring shame upon the person doing so.

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story poses a lot of questions and will strike up discussions amongst those who watch it. Did people really not see what was going on? Or was it that they did know (we know there were rumours, at least), but let it slide because of all the good he was also seen to be doing? Did his charity work and good deeds absolve him of wrong-doing at a time when something could be done about it? Is it true that there really was no trace of what he was doing, or was evidence being made to disappear? Who was complicit in his crimes? Some of these answers are hinted at in the documentary, but in all honesty it is a just conversation starter. There is plenty of fat to chew on as far as the subject matter and surrounding topics go.

All in all, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is an uncomfortable, but probing watch. Coverage of the whole issue may be patchy in areas, most likely because the answers to some questions aren’t fully formed even now, over ten years since Savile’s crimes first became a national scandal following his death in 2011. But what is covered gets under the skin and really drives home how calculated he was with what he did. Regardless of however else you may feel about anything else you see here, there can be no doubt that he was a predatory monster with absolutely no limitations.

What did you think of the Netflix docuseries Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story? Comment below.

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