Robbie Coltrane 'appalled' by historical sex abuse

By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

image copyrightChannel 4
image captionRobbie Coltrane, Andrea Riseborough and Julie Walters star in National Treasure

Robbie Coltrane has said he was "appalled" by the number of public figures who have been accused of historical abuse in recent years.

The actor plays a fictional celebrity who is accused of historical sex crimes in Channel 4 drama National Treasure, which begins later this month.

Referring to real-life revelations, he said: "Every day another story [comes out], and I think it appals all of us."

He said he believed appearing in the series was "an important thing to do".

"The power of drama is you can deal with these things in a way that the judiciary, the police and Parliament can't, or seem unable to."

image copyrightChannel 4
image captionColtrane's character is accused of raping a woman 20 years earlier

The actor said he had avoided meeting Jimmy Savile, who was found to be a serial abuser who had preyed on children and adults over several decades.

"I never wanted to meet him. I always thought he was creepy," Coltrane said.

"The big question is, what kind of culture was going on that he got away with it for as long as he did?"

At least 72 people were sexually abused by Savile in connection with his work at the BBC, and the corporation missed opportunities to stop his abuse because of a "culture of fear", the Dame Janet Smith review concluded earlier this year.

Coltrane said he hoped advances in communication and technology meant similar abuse would be less likely to occur now.

"With the way electronics and social media [are], hopefully it won't happen again, that you could not get away with it these days. That's what you'd hope," he said.

image copyrightChannel 4
image captionJulie Walters plays the wife of Coltrane's character in the series

Asked whether it was a difficult decision to appear in the show, Coltrane said: "Not once I read the script."

The four-part drama's screenplay was written by Jack Thorne, who also wrote Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, which is currently playing in London's West End.

Co-star Julie Walters agreed that National Treasure "was wonderfully written, and written in a complicated, multifaceted way".

The actress plays the wife of Coltrane's character, one of many people around him whose lives are torn apart by the allegations.

"You look at these cases and for me it's the wife you want to know about," Walters said.

"Women like that are fascinating. The reasons she stands by him were fascinating to go into."

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