Has anyone else noticed that last week News Channels were routinely referring to “Sir Jimmy Savile” and this week they are merely referring to “Savile”? Indeed even the officer heading the police inquiry seems to have informally stripped Jimmy Savile of that knighthood.
While I tend to believe that Savile was indeed as bad as has been claimed, there seems to be a rush to judgement in the media itself. What people say in private conversation while having a “wee cup of tea” with family members or a “water cooler conversation” with colleagues is one thing……but the discourse on TV News channels and in newspapers should be different……better.
“It Was Good While It Lasted” was the inscription on Savile’s headstone in a Scarborough graveyard. He died last year. The headstone unveiled last month. And at midnight last night, it was demolished at the request of his own family. To protect the dignity of the graveyard itself…..a plaque on the house in which he lived in Scarborough had already been vandalised.
It seems a shame……and an irony…that Savile’s celebrity (and allegedly influence) protected him from being prosecuted during his lifetime. And that same celebrity has worked against him after his death.
A thought here……. I always preferred Jimmy Savile on the radio….just playing records. And I liked him on Top Of The Pops. But the whole Jim’ll Fix It persona……I found that hard to take. It seemed like a parody, as if he was impersonating himself as much as Mike Yarwood was impersonating him.
‘ows about that then, guys and gals?
I dont know. He just seemed as my Auntie Sheila would have put it……..too sweet to be wholesome. Not necessarily with children but the fawning creepiness around his guest stars, the self-publicist raising millions for charity and staying weekends with Margaret Thatcher at Chequers.
In truth he had already been “dead” for twenty years. Being off screen is in fact Death for a Celebrity. Maybe he was just old hat. Maybe his eccentricity had started to appear downright mad….or maybe producers had heard the rumours.
Paul Gambaccini is still more right than anyone else. There was that 25-year window between Rock ‘n’ Roll and AIDS where eveything was allowed. Everybody had their thing. And as the newspaper reviewers said on Sky News last night….we live in a better moral climate now. Not too sure about that one.
But what do we make of Esther Rantzen? My father never liked her. She had been a fawning presence on “The Braden Beat”, just about the first consumer affairs programme on TV (1960s) and went on to host the same show when Bernard Braden was sacked by the BBC. There was frankly little about the young Esther to suggest she would be climbing thru the ranks of the BBC….marrying producer Desmond Wilcox along the way…..to becoming the most powerful woman on British Television.
Of course she went on to found the Childline Charity which for about two decades has been helping children deal with abuse.
So last year Savile died. And Esther Rantzen appeared on the TV News to pay tribute to her old friend Jimmy. And last week we saw Esther shed a tear or two as she watched the documentary which exposed Savile as a paedophile. Yes she said……..she had “heard the rumours” while he was still alive.
Somehow the excuse that Esther Rantzen puts forward……that she was a woman in a male orientated culture at the BBC……..somehow that just doesnt ring true. Esther Rantzen has never been “just a woman”.
Nor has Janet Street Porter been “just a woman”. She also heard the rumours. And she achnowledges that she saw inappropriate behaviour at the Beeb (not involving Savile) but she also did not voice her concerns.
Interestingly while channel-surfing last week and came actoss “Loose Women” on which Street-Porter was a panellist. American readers will know the format from “The View”. So. Janet tells her audience of her helplessness and ……….somehow that just doesnt ring true. She even brings up her own experience of being ten years old and being molested by her hairdresser.
Just thirty six hours later, Janet was a panelist on another “show”………”Question Time” and went into the same spiel. The audience was less tolerant. A “helpless” Janet Streer-Porter just doesnt ring true. Significantly her critic was a “woman”.
Indeed, I note that Mrs FitzjamesHorse is rather intolerant of Esther Rantzen and Janet Street-Porter. Mrs FJH takes the view that their careers prospered at the Beeb.
Of course the catalogue of misery which we have seen over the past ten days or so continues. The archive footage of Savile which appeared benighn…….now seems sinister. We seem to be looking into his eyes ….the window to the soul…and there seems to be a story there……….almost as much as the archive footage of Brendan Smyth becomes more distasteful at every showing.
Did BBC producers have the opportunity to investigate him decades ago? Or the police? Or the National Health Service. Were young women patients really told to pretend to be asleep when he did “ward rounds” at Stoke Mandeville? Did he really havea key so that he could wander round the corridors of a facility for the criminally insane?
It beggars belief.
The law of averages is such that a small percentage of those coming forward will not be telling the truth. And the law of averages is such that a greater percentage of (then) young women will not come forward. It is just……sordid.