The accusations against Bill Cosby are too shocking to be ignored, says Lucy Pilkington

How do you make a film about one of America’s greatest stars being accused of horrific sexual crimes? This was the challenge we faced as we started discussing our Bill Cosby project with the BBC.

Telling the story of Cosby standing trial for sexual assault was never going to be easy. But it was just too big and important a story to ignore: 58 women have now accused Cosby of assaulting them.

To complicate matters further, this is still a live story; none of the accusations against Cosby has yet been proven in a court of law. In fact only one, that of Andrea Constand, has reached a criminal case.

Producing this for a UK broadcaster, where we have no First Amendment defence, we had to work very closely with our lawyers to provide a dossier of supporting evidence on all the allegations.

We knew that Hollywood was going to be difficult to penetrate – the US entertainment industry simply doesn’t want to be associated with a story as potentially dark as this. We had many, many ‘no’s from this quarter.

But what’s harder to navigate for this story was the cultural and political sensitivity. Just telling the story, one that feeds into the worst kind of racial fantasies, was seen by some black people as a betrayal.

It wasn’t until a black comedian, Hannibal Buress, publicly accused Cosby that the story was even widely reported. To me, this spoke volumes about the racial sensitivities involved.

The centrality of race to the story had not really been covered in previous docs. Sugar Films’ mission statement to handle diverse subject matter with sensitivity and sophistication was a good calling card. Director Ricardo

Pollack and I both had track records in films on multicultural subjects. And we made sure that our team, both in the UK and the US, was mixed, and felt confident tackling the importance of race.

We hope we’ve done justice to the enormity of the Cosby story. Whether he is acquitted or found guilty, it feels like an American tragedy.

Lucy Pilkington is creative director of Sugar Films.

Cosby: Fall Of An American Icon airs on BBC2 at 9pm on 5 June