True Crime Docuseries Review: Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story

 Released on Netflix on April 6, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is a two part docuseries about a horrendous sexual predator whose life was previously celebrated.  After his death in 2011, reports came out about a long history of sexual abuse with many of the victims being under age.  Savile was so loved by the country that he had been awarded the Order of the British Empire, as well as being knighted.

With that knowledge, one would think that this series would be showing the extent of his crimes and all of the investigations that would come after his passing.  That's what I had assumed.  Sadly, that is not the case in this docuseries.

A British Horror Story is a bit of an oddity for Netflix, as it is only two episodes.  The norm is generally from three to five parts, and I think this series could have benefited from being more segmented.  Even with only having two parts, the full run time (170 minutes) could have easily been translated into four episodes at forty minutes.  Having this added segmentation could have dramatically altered the balance of the story as it could have easily focused on different angles of the story.

As it is, the entire first episode is pretty much just dedicated to telling the life and influence of Savile.  For just shy of eighty minutes, we see series director Rowan Deacon focus on Savile at length.  Thrown in the mix are a few hints of what would be to come, but it became clear that none of the criminal deeds would be looked at until the second episode.  This meant that almost half of the run time of the series was solely about telling the story of Savile.  

While I understand the importance of showing how this horrible man fooled a nation, it was just too much for me.  I don't want to pay that much attention to this bottom feeder.  For me, it is more important to learn of what he did, who he hurt, and to tell the stories of the survivors.  I felt awful seeing so much time dedicated to Savile's life, an important part of true crime content, but this was too much.  I had hopes that the second episode would be dedicated to his victims and the exposing of the crimes.

Those hopes, however, were let down.  While the second episode is more geared towards his crimes, it is presented in a meandering way that eats up way too much of the run time.  The actual looking at what he did, how it came out, and how many people were affected is probably only about the final twenty minutes of run time.  Only a single survivor was interviewed, and this all left me with the impression that the story of the victims and the crime weren't a priority for Deacon.

I'm not British, and I didn't know who Savile was, so this was all new information to me.  I think that if you know of him and his career, there is probably nothing to be gained by watching A British Horror Story.  This thing lacks meat and unique insight, and one could probably save a lot of time by simply reading Savile's Wikipedia page.

Also, as an outsider, I was a bit surprised that people were shocked when they found out he was a sex offender.  This is entirely judgemental and superficial of me, but if I tasked someone in Hollywood to create an image of a monstrous pedophile , the result would most likely look and act just like Jimmy Savile did.  He is pretty much the creepiest person I have ever seen, who also repeatedly joked about sex with young girls.  If I judged the book by the cover, I would honestly never be around him.

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story does have some interesting information in it, and, if you are like me and know nothing about Savile, there could be something learned.  The big problem is that Rowan Deacon spends way too much time highlighting Savile and his career, and seems to make the barest of efforts to tell about the true tragedy of his actions.

Rating - 1.5 out of 4 stars