THE BBC is facing a fresh outcry after it revealed it is to show a new drama series about the paedophile and TV presenter Jimmy Savile.

Actor Steve Coogan will play Savile in a forthcoming series about how the high-profile television host spent decades living a double life as one of the country’s most notorious child sex abusers.

The Alan Partridge star said the decision to portray Savile on screen was not one he “took lightly” but the series had “an intelligent script tackling sensitively an horrific story which – however harrowing – needs to be told”.

The creators say the series will explore both Savile’s rise to fame and how the presenter “used his celebrity and powerful connections to conceal his wrongdoings and to hide in plain sight”.

The National:

Jimmy Savile's house in Glencoe 

But news of the series provoked anger on social media with critics making reference to how the corporation's chiefs had controversially blocked an investigation into his crimes from being shown on BBC Two's Newsnight.

Savile's sexual abuse of children was later revealed in an investigation by rival broadcaster ITV.

Scottish independence supporter and documentary maker Phantom Power tweeted: "The BBC, who gave serial sex offender Jimmy Savile regular spots on Top of the Pops and his very own children’s show then helped cover up his crimes, is making a ‘sensitive drama’ about the ‘complex character’. Unreal."

Journalist Sonia Poulton also took to Twitter to express her anger.

She tweeted: "Not interested in discovering that Jimmy Savile was a 'complex character' thank you, BBC. He was your asset, a well-connected paedophile & more. Stop trying to make him a victim or someone to relate to. He ruined lives and was enabled by you. A mess you have yet to clear up."

Twitter user Alison Haines hit out.

She wrote: "Speaking as a childhood victim of a similarly ‘complex’ character, I can honestly say this turns my stomach beyond belief, and makes me furious."

When Savile died in 2011 he was initially widely celebrated as a quirky British eccentric who had entertained multiple generations of Britons through his appearances on BBC shows such as Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It. 

Yet within weeks of his death, the BBC’s Newsnight programme had prepared an investigation into allegations that Savile was a serial sexual abuser, only for it to be kept off air by BBC bosses.

A year later, ITV went public with an investigation into the presenter, unleashing a cascade of allegations about an establishment cover-up. 

It revealed that Savile was a paedophile who had covered up decades of illegal behaviour against children using his charity work, links to the police and connections in the media.

He protected his reputation by threatening legal action against anyone who looked into allegations against him.

The botched handling of the affair contributed to the departure of George Entwistle as BBC director general.

In 2016, former director-general Tony Hall, who succeeded Entwistle, described the sexual abuse by Savile as a "dark chapter" in the corporation's history.

And he vowed that the review into its culture would be "invaluable" in helping to ensure such incidents never happen again.

A leaked draft report of the review by Dame Janet Smith condemned the BBC over its "deferential culture" and "untouchable stars", and criticised it for having managers who were "above the law".

Rapes, indecent assaults on both boys and girls, and incidents of "inappropriate sexual conduct" with teenagers over the age of 16 were all "in some way associated with the BBC", a leaked draft report stated, adding that three of Savile's victims were only nine.

Incidents occurred at "virtually every one of the BBC premises" in which Savile worked, the report said, and more than 100 employees at the corporation told the review they had heard about Savile's sexual conduct.

Jeff Pope, the executive producer of The Reckoning, told the Guardian: “The purpose of this drama is to explore how Savile’s offending went unchecked for so long, and in shining a light on this, to ensure such crimes never happen again. Steve Coogan has a unique ability to inhabit complex characters and will approach this role with the greatest care and integrity.”

Savile owned a cottage in Glencoe in the Highlands from 1998 with the building laying vacant and becoming vandalised since his death a decade ago.

Earlier this month locals backed an online consultation to demolish the cottage where it is believed Savile abused up to 20 people.

Savile’s grave remains in a cemetery in Scarborough despite local opposition after his crimes emerged. He left instructions that his coffin should lie at 45 degrees so he could always “see the sea”.

His grave was also encased in concrete, ostensibly to protect the remains from robbers, which has made it impossible for him to be exhumed. Savile’s headstone, which has since been removed, had the inscription: “It was good while it lasted.”