Cosby: Fall Of An American Icon
Confirmed for BBC Two on 5 June at 9pm to 10pm
Monday 5 June
This film tells the extraordinary story of how Bill Cosby finally came to face a criminal trial for sexual assault a decade after the accusations were made. On 5 June 2017 Bill Cosby is due to face trial in his home state of Pennsylvania, charged with sexual assault on a woman named Andrea Constand, amid accusations of similar behaviour from dozens of other women.
One of Hollywood’s brightest and wealthiest stars, a role model to African-Americans and philanthropist for Black causes, Bill Cosby was an American icon. In 1965 he came to prominence as the first black American actor to appear in a starring role in a mainstream drama, and in the 1980s the eponymous Cosby Show, with Bill’s alter ego Cliff Huxtable as the lead, was his career’s crowning glory. The impact of the show was seismic, redefining the way African-American families were represented on television.
But throughout his career Bill was allegedly privately drugging and raping women with impunity. Accusations from numerous women had fallen on deaf ears for more than a decade, but ironically it was Cosby’s own public pronouncements on morality which finally brought both a criminal case and public disdain.
When Hannibal Buress, an African-American comedian, publicly denounced Cosby as a rapist in 2014 without reprisal, dozens of women came forward alleging similar behaviour. However, because their cases happened such a long time ago Cosby will face a criminal trial for only one of them.
This film explores why it took so long for allegations about Bill Cosby to be taken seriously, and hears extraordinary testimony from the journalists, co-stars and the accusers who fought for years for this side of the Cosby story to be heard. Interviewees include Richard Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor, as well as accusers, fellow Cosby actor Lili Bernard, and former actor and playboy bunny Victoria Valentino.
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