Review: ‘Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story’ ★★★☆☆

3 mins read

Content Warning: This documentary covers distressing themes including abuse, rape, grooming and sexual assault.

Netflix’s newest docuseries explores the dark underbelly of Jimmy Savile’s career. A part of Britain’s entertainment history that the public would rather forget, ‘Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story’ follows the story of infamous DJ and TV presenter, Jimmy Savile, and the chilling crimes committed throughout his career.

This documentary is not for the faint of heart, or those easily impacted by stories involving such gross abuses of power. Although difficult to watch at times, the sensitive subject matter of this documentary has been dealt with using the necessary respect and compassion for those impacted. Victims have been given a platform to tell their stories honestly, as well as the journalists and investigators who worked hard to break the case. However, menacing sound effects often undermine the importance and devestating details of the interviews included.

The Netflix original consists of two parts and is just under three hours long. The show is extremely thorough in describing Savile’s professional life and the abuse endured by his victims, but fails in its attempt to say something about his early life. This would be of interest to know, considering the kind of individual he came to be.

Image Credit: Netflix

It’s easy to see the attention to detail that went in to the research and making of the documentary. Victims stories have been backed up with footage that correlates to their claims exactly, and extensive knowledge is given about the DJ’s relationship to elite individuals such as Margaret Thatcher and Prince Charles.

It is truly shocking to watch Savile hide in plain sight, as footage shows him consistently hinting towards his misconduct with no interrogation from those around him. One of the entertainer’s favourite jokes to make, “My case comes up next thursday” is sure to send a shiver down the spine of any viewer.

The use of “Horror Story” in the documentary’s title is both an understatement and a misuse of the phrase. It does not seem to fit the severity of the situation nor fully describe the real-life, disasterous impact on the victims of such a prolific predator.

A redeeming quality of this, perhaps somewhat sensastionalist, true crime documentary is that Sam Brown, one of Savile’s many victims, is given the last say about the case.

This is not the kind of documentary that leaves you feeling better than you did before viewing, nor does it have a particularly satisfying ending. However, it speaks volumes about the failure of the British public, police and the staff who encountered Savile to protect the children in their care.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

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Journalism student at the University of Stirling. She/Her. Twitter & Instagram: @DeannaDawnn

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