Chilling drama recalls encounter with beast, and marathon cheat - Vladimir McTavish

On BBC iPlayer, I have been catching up with The Reckoning, a chillingly wonderful true-life drama about Jimmy Savile.
Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in the BBC drama The ReckoningSteve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in the BBC drama The Reckoning
Steve Coogan as Jimmy Savile in the BBC drama The Reckoning

Steve Coogan is pitch-perfect in his portrayal of the older Savile, although in the scenes set in the sixties, it does look a bit weird seeing a 57-year-old actor playing a 30-something guy, like an ageing man in a blonde wig. In the words of the old pervert himself, “How’s about that then, guys and gals?”

Watching it, one can’t help but wonder how Savile was able to hide in plain sight, and get away with what he did, for the best part of 50 years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I was reminded of my own personal encounter with the beast himself. This took place years before any of the shocking revelations about his predatory sexual behaviour hit the front pages of the press. At the time he was Sir Jimmy Savile, national treasure, knight of the realm, charity fundraiser and close friend of the Royal Family and of Margaret Thatcher.

I escaped unharmed but got a good insight into the man’s sociopathic behaviour. In the early noughties. I was taking part in the Glasgow half-marathon, as was Savile who was well over 70 by then. About 100 yards past the start I overtook him, which was hardly surprising given that he was running at barely walking pace. After two miles, I overtook him again, which was somewhat puzzling. “How did he manage that?” I mused. About a mile-and-a-half later, I passed him again, totally baffled at how he managed to make up the time.

I was running six-and-a-half-minute miles. He must have doing 15 minutes a mile at best. Yet still he was always in front of me. How did Jim fix it for him to manage that?

Eventually, in Bellahouston Park around the midway point of the run, I was overtaken by a camper van, out of the back of which emerged Jimmy Savile. He had obviously been driven around the route so that he could appear whenever there were TV cameras, and pretend that he had run the full 13 miles.

And that’s when I twigged he was a wrong ‘un. None of the subsequent revelations came as any surprise to me.