There are many uncomfortable aspects to the allegations surrounding Jimmy Savile which have been emerging in the past 48 hours. The first is that Jimmy Savile is dead and neither he or his alleged victims will get any Justice.
Jimmy Savile was the first person to introduce Top of The Pops…….7.30pm every Thursday night. And for some years TOTP was introduced on a weekly rota with four of the BBCs “Disc Jockeys”. The others were Pete Murray (an unsuccessful actor who had presented the Six Five Special, a late 1950s “pop programme), Alan Freeman who had yet to develop his flamboyant persona and David Jacobs from Juke Box Jury, a BBC”suit” who went on to Come Dancing and Any Questions.
Savile was at that time the cutting edge, coming from the north of England……a former miner, wrestler and dance hall DJ. Back in the day………I was a pop music fanatic. Savile was part of that……..the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, the Kinks, the Who, Hermans Hermits, the Animals………and it was 1964 after all, I was a first year in a Belfast Grammar School, spending Sunday listening to Savile present Savilles Travels on the Radio……which he presemted from his caravan and listening to Savile on Radio Luxembourg.
You had to be there. Another generation of ex-pirate DJs swarmed into Radio 1 when it started in 1967…….yes I was up at the crack of dawn to listen to Tony Blackburn introduce the first ever record played on Radio 1……….and as anyone who has ever taken part in a Pub Quiz will know it was “Flowers In The Rain” by the Move.
When it became clear that even a Peter Pan figure like Jimmy Savile was no longer credible in terms of “pop music”, he moved into TV presenting, notably “Jim’ll Fix It” where he arranged for youngsters to fulfil some kind of dream.
An eccentric figure ………long white hair, jewelry, gold track suit, cigar………and shameless self publicist, his in your face presenting style was made acceptable because of his charity work. Before dying last year, he had certainly raised tens of millions for good causes, many thru running marathons. Perhaps more impressively he used to work as an unpaid hospital porter in Leeds, his home city and at Broadmoor, a hospital for the criminally insane.
Indeed he was knighted by both the Queen of England and Pope John Paul II. His persona was of a rather ordinary person but he was actually very intelligent and a member of MENSA. The eccentricities were regarded as harmless. He lived with his aged mother (the Duchess) in an ordinary terraced house in Leeds. He was a regular Church-goer and yet boasted of his womanising in later life. A life-long bachelor, I recall that there was some surprise when he became engaged to a much younger blonde singer in a 1970s pop group.
In retrospect his references to “crumpet” (pretty girls) is tacky but in perhaps the most telling commentary on the current controversy……cerebral DJ Paul Gambaccini recalls the time frame in which Jimmy Savile lived and worked. Gambaccini talks of the twenty-five year period before AIDS when attitudes to sexuality changed…..everyone says Gambaccini had their own “thing”. And Savile was one such person. His thing was young girls.
Gambaccini who believes the allegations and talks of his own inability to talk to Savile about it……thru fear of Saviles influence at the BBC has a point.
Even if Belfast was maybe ten to fifteen years behind Swinging London……….as Philip Larkin wrote that “sex began in 1963” and I suppose Gambaccini is right that in that twenty-five years between 1963 and 1988 or thereabouts, there was a lot of sexual freedom…….certainly a more permissive attitude. …in movies, TV, personal behaviour.
There is probably more sex around now than in the 1960s or 1970s but the emphasis is now on empowerment and certainly no couting technique that involves calling a young woman “crumpet” is likely to succeed.
The last twenty years or so, Jimmy Savile was less seen on TV……and was rather a relic of a by-gone age with attitudes to match. His performance in a Louis Theroux documentary showed more of his eccentricity……he still kept his dead mothers clothes, he spoke a little about rumours of his sexual interest in young girls. His image was dented somewhat by that documentary……the eccentricity became slightly sinister.
And this appears to be the case. Allegations, some centred on a now closed Young Offenders Institute for Girls which he visited regularly have surfaced. The Police investigated and interviewd Savile under caution in 2007. There were no charges.
More tellingly BBC staff have admitted to knowing about the rumours and more tellingly a former producer has said that he knows that Savile shared a room in a seedy hotel with a girl at most 12 years of age. When tackled on this Savile claimed he was too powerful for the BBC. The BBC needed him.
Its a complex story. The eccentricity, the physical fitness and undercurrent of Menace, the charity work (penace perhaps?), sexual attitudes then and now, the BBC attitude…………and tabloid journalism. All will seemingly be revealed on a ITV documentary “The Other Side of Jimmy Savile”.
And……..of course Jimmy Savile died in 2011. There is no Justice for anyone in this story.