In The Reckoning, the BBC’s dramatisation of the Savile affair, one of the BBC presenter’s victims – who committed suicide after being abused by him – is played by an Asian actress when in fact she was a white Briton. According to friends of the victim, this is unacceptable. The Mail has more.
The friend of a schoolgirl who killed herself after Jimmy Savile’s abuse says the BBC’s The Reckoning changed her skin colour and suicide for their drama.
Businesswoman Kelly Gold, 67, saw the tragic story of Claire McAlpine in episode 2 of the harrowing series, which stars Steve Coogan.
Claire had been a regular in the Top of the Pops audience, when she took an overdose and died in March 1971. She was just 15.
She had been seen going to Savile’s BBC dressing room at least twice and had written a diary entry about having sex with a presenter in a hotel. Savile was questioned after her mother discovered what had happened. He denied everything.
On The Reckoning a character named Sara, played by actress Tia Dutt, is among girls waiting for Savile at his dressing room but is later left on her own. She goes with him to a hotel where she is sexually abused.
The programme then shows her mother crying, holding her daughter’s suicide note before she rings up the BBC to complain. A flashback shows Sara died of an overdose, Savile is quizzed and denies ever “laying eyes on her”.
Ms Gold told MailOnline she “didn’t know why they changed Claire’s character”, having no doubt it was her story being told on screen.
She said: “I watched the series and thought it was good and that they’d done a good job and handled it well.
“But I don’t know why they changed Claire’s character to be Asian. Also they said she left a suicide note but Claire actually left a diary, naming more than just Savile.They mentioned that under 16s were not allowed in the bar but I was in there and I was 14.
“If they had a proper investigation at the time and took what Claire said seriously, he would’ve been caught a lot earlier.”
After being contacted for comment by MailOnline, the BBC denied the character on the show was the real-life victim but did incorporate some of her ordeal.
A spokesman insisted: “Sara is not Claire McAlpine. We know many of Savile’s victims were driven to thoughts of suicide and the drama has a duty to reflect the impact of his abuse in full.
“This fictional character has been portrayed sensitively and responsibly, and with the knowledge of Claire’s family we have reflected elements of Claire’s story in order to represent many more victims.
“The depiction of the BBC’s response to the death of a vulnerable girl is rooted in fact – informed by the 1972 report by QC Brian Neill, as referenced in the Dame Janet Smith report – which was a significant missed opportunity by the BBC for effective safeguarding reform.”
Worth reading in full.