Netflix has released some unsettling true crime documentaries over the years. But their latest offering, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story, is a thoroughly disturbing and chilling account of how a TV personality groomed a whole nation so he could carry out systematic abuse of children over many years.
Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story Review
Background of Jimmy Savile and His Career
Jimmy Savile rose to prominence as a DJ at Radio Luxembourg. His fame increased as the years went on, which led to him becoming one of the UK’s most influential TV personalities – a successful career which saw him present Top of the Pops, and, most chillingly, Jim’ll Fix It; a show which involved children writing in with their wishes, and the show would subsequently grant them that wish.
He was, without a doubt, one of the most recognized individuals in the UK entertainment industry for decades. He gained friends in high places over the years – even in esteemed institutions like the British Royal Family and many serving Yorkshire Police officers also counted Savile as a “friend”. To mask his disturbing pedophilic crimes, Jimmy raised millions for charities; something which gave him unlimited access to children to continue his abuse – abuse which spanned decades. He was knighted by the Queen and had a close friendship with Margaret Thatcher when she was the Prime Minister. Rumors of his predatory behavior plagued his career, but until his death, on 29th October 2011, no charges were ever brought – and Savile died a presumed national treasure to millions.
What the Documentary Tells Us
Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is forthright, which gives it a powerful punch. The testimony from victims of Savile gives the 2 part documentary a devastatingly chilling edge – making parts hard to digest. Hearing one victim talk about the abuse she suffered as a pre-teen is harrowing. Despite the distressing nature of the testimonies, you have to admire Director Rowan Deacon and how he tells the story of Jimmy Savile. It is quite frankly impossible to delve totally into the disturbing psyche of Savile – so Deacon opts for restraint. The documentary is based heavily on the testimonies of victims and journalists who worked in the media around the time of Savile’s fame.
These testimonies are sandwiched in-between archive footage of Savile on TV, which – in retrospect when watching – make it easy to spot his predatory instincts. But because of his fame, young females were forced to tolerate this monster. Almost all of the archive footage, where he is on TV shows with women and young girls, is quite frankly stomach churning. Many documentaries become sensationalist when looking to make the perpetrator as monstrous as possible. Director Deacon successfully presents the facts and leaves it in plain sight for the viewers to see what a monster Savile was.
Cover-Ups and Friendships
A British Horror Story does look at Savile’s relationship with various high ranking people and institutions in the UK and discusses cover-ups with Yorkshire Police officers who were seen routinely in his company. Hearing about his relationships with influential people is disturbing on two levels in how it so obviously impacted victims of his and stopped them from coming forward. It also seemingly gave Savile a chilling air of invincibility where he felt he would never face justice. This apparent invincibility was never more present than when he addressed rumors of being a pedophile by simply dismissing these claims as groupie culture.
A Bitter Taste
Sadness and anger are the overriding feelings after watching this 2 part documentary. There is no happy ending despite Savile dying and the truth being out – there is a strong sense of anger on behalf of his victims as they will never receive the justice they deserve. His victims were failed and by many influential people and organisations. He successfully groomed a nation so he could carry out his twisted crimes. It is difficult not to walk away from this documentary feeling angry that Savile never faced his day in court – and those complicit in his sickening crimes were allowed to carry on with their lives – while many of his victims, to this day, continue to suffer. A British Horror Story is a disturbing tale of suffering at the hands of evil – which leaves nothing more than the bitter taste of injustice.
Check out our article on the victims of Celtic Boys Club as they search for justice.
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