Star struck

louis theroux

Review by David Southwell

TV | Louis Theroux: Savile | ABC iview

Louis Theroux has made a career out of asking awkward questions but in this documentary he has to answer them.

Louis Theroux: Savile is a 2016 follow-up to the previous program When Louis met Jimmy, where Theroux spent several days inquisitively sparring with UK TV and radio star Jimmy Savile in 2000.

Even back then Theroux admitted he failed in his signature task of getting a subject to reveal their deeper self.

However, the extent of that failure became shockingly apparent following Savile’s death when the entertainer’s staggering decades-long catalogue of child sexual abuse was revealed.

Even more uncomfortably, Theroux calls Savile a friend as they kept in contact after the first program.

Theroux asks why he failed to see the monstrous predator not only hidden in plain sight but in the glaring spotlight of celebrity.

In this show Theroux reviews his encounters with Savile, interviews Savile’s victims and others who knew him.

It becomes clear that Savile’s charity work, including raising millions for a hospital spinal injuries unit, was a cloak for his crimes, some of which were perpetrated on the unit’s patients.

Savile targeted both the physically and psychologically vulnerable, with some victims explaining that because they were sexually abused in their own families, Savile’s behaviour seemed normal.

This helps explain the victims’ silence, especially against Savile whose fame, powerful connections and wealth came garlanded with admiration for good deeds and whose peak stardom coincided with cultural attitudes permissive to bad male celebrity behaviour.

When a predator cultivates the acceptance and trust of victims, but also of adults to get access, it is called grooming.

One of Savile’s victims asks Theroux if he was groomed.

Theroux denies this, saying it is too big a term and doesn’t apply to him.

This is one awkward question that Theroux gets wrong.

Theroux was groomed to write off the jarring warning signs of Savile’s perturbing behaviour as eccentricity.

However, an entire nation was groomed to do this, showing predators can thrive in any context and on any scale.

Louis Theroux: Savile will be available on ABC iview until May 10.

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