Jimmy Saville was a disgusting, horrible man. On the surface though, he was a national treasure. Former DJ and TV presenter, Jimmy Saville captured the nation with his eccentric blend of odd mannerisms and “trendy” fashion. He frequently did charity work, he gained the favour of the royals and even had close ties with the police.
Underneath that glitzy façade though lie unimaginable horrors, hiding away a sick man that abused over 400 people – and got away with it. Even in death, with his headstone mockingly reading “It was good while it lasted,” Saville showed no remorse for his actions.
Anyone around at the time will be well aware of this story and in many ways, Netflix’s documentary simple retreads a lot of familiar ground. The two episodes – each clocking in at around 80 minutes – detail Saville’s life from start to finish, beginning with his rise to fame and a few allegations (episode 1) to unveiling the true nature of this evil man (episode 2.)
What’s particularly skin-crawling here though is how open Jimmy Saville is about his behaviour. “My case is up next Thursday,” He’d joke repeatedly when asked about this. On panel shows and interviews he’d talk about how he liked little girls, and there’s even a moment late into episode 2 where on Top of the Pops he actually molested someone while speaking to the camera – complete with nervous giggles and trying to squirm away.
Jimmy Saville was a sick man and the fact his victims never got any sort of justice is a crime unto itself. There’s a fair amount of shade thrown at the BBC here, especially as they buried allegations brought before them and refused to air an important documentary about Saville’s abuse. This – as we later find out – actually opened the floodgates for more victims to come forward.
The format here is similar to other Netflix true crime documentaries, with a blend of archival footage and talking head interviews. A fair few of these victims do also watch the footage “with us”, giving that sense of inclusivity with the series does a really nice job of presenting.
This documentary does feel a bit too long though and there’s perhaps an excessive amount of footage used in showcasing Saville and all the “good” he does for the community. Personally, it would have been nice to see this cut down a bit in favour of more victims or a tighter screenplay overall, but then that may just be my own stomach-churning experience of watching this horrible, evil man up on screen.
Ultimately though, Jimmy Saville: A British Horror Story is not an easy watch. This is a documentary that’s going to leave a sour taste in the mouth and some of the victim stories are absolutely heart-breaking to listen to. There’s no fixing them and the disgusting red-ribboned medallions, claiming that Jim has done just that, feels now like a stomach churning joke at our expense. I’m not a religious man but if there is an afterlife, let’s hope Saville is rotting in the deepest recesses of Hell for his actions.
Verdict - 8/10