Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon

BBC2 – 9pm, 05/06/2017

This film tells the extraordinary story of how Bill Cosby, one of Hollywood’s brightest and wealthiest stars, a role model to African-Americans and philanthropist for Black causes, finally came to face a criminal trial for sexual assault a decade after the accusations were made.

Bill Cosby came to prominence in 1965 as the first black American actor to appear in a starring role in a mainstream drama. 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 and making Cosby one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood.

Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon broadcast on BBC2 in June 2017

Throughout his career Bill was allegedly drugging and raping women, but their accusations fell on deaf ears. However in 2014 after Cosby was denounced without reprisal by Hannibal Buress, an African-American comedian, dozens of women came forward alleging sexual misconduct. Because of the passage of time most of the allegations were ruled inadmissible, but ironically because of Cosby’s own public pronouncements on morality he will face a criminal trial for one of them in June 2017.

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.