Jimmy Savile abuse play set for Fringe debut

Alistair McGowan as Jimmy Savile
Alistair McGowan as Jimmy Savile
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A STARTLING new play starring impressionist Alistair McGowan as serial abuser Jimmy Savile is to get a last-minute transfer to the Fringe next month.

An Audience with Jimmy Savile, which has broken box office records at London’s Park Theatre, where it premiered earlier this year, will run at Assembly from 11 to 22 August.

Many survivors of abuse and victims of Savile have seen it in London and said ‘it needs to be seen’ by more people.”

Alistair McGowan

Written by Jonathan Maitland, the piece is set in 1991, as a TV show celebrates the life of the recently knighted “Most Trusted Man In Britain” and a starkly different story unfolds in the shadows.

Explaining the decision to bring the play to the Capital, McGowan said: “The response to the play has been extraordinary. Many survivors of abuse and victims of Savile have seen it in London and said ‘it needs to be seen’ by more people.

“The Edinburgh Festival is one of the best showcases in the world for contemporary, controversial and cutting edge theatre, and performing it there gives us a chance to let more people see this important play.”

Drawing extensively on material from genuine interviews, transcripts and TV shows, the play explores the most shocking sex scandal of our time.

Aware of the upset the production could cause, the show’s producers have worked with the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) and other survivors’ groups to avoid causing any unnecessary distress.

McGowan said: “The Savile scandal has changed attitudes to abuse in terms of policing and prosecution. What Jonathan Maitland has done is a convincing answer to the questions everyone asks: ‘How on earth did he get away with it for more than half a century?’”

Savile, whose death aged 84 in 2011 led to Operation Yewtree and accusations of abuse on an unprecedented scale, is now reviled as one of Britain’s most prolific predatory sex offenders.

McGowan added: “I, on a personal level, felt duped by the man. Most of the people of my age feel weirdly foolish that we were taken in by Jimmy Savile.”

Gabrielle Shaw, chief executive of NAPAC, said: “We are delighted with the success of this outstanding play, which shines a light on how Savile got away with his terrible actions.”

• An Audience with Jimmy Savile will run at Assembly, Studio 1, George Square, August 11-22, 7.55pm. Tickets at £15-£16 are on sale now from www.assemblyfestival.com.