JANET STREET PORTER: Your tragic Savile letters show this isn’t just hysteria
By Janet Street Porter
5 November 2012
The BBC has decided not to broadcast repeats of Top Of The Pops hosted by Jimmy Savile, as if belatedly culling the evil court jester from our screens constitutes an act of cultural cleansing.
Since I discussed the scandal on Question Time on October 4, the day after ITV broadcast their shocking documentary, I have received a huge number of emails and letters.
Every day brings more revelations — involving hospitals, prisons and places where vulnerable people thought they were safe….
Stories of abuse going back half a century are being told for the very first time, and there are calls for previous investigations into abuse at children’s homes in Wales and in Jersey to be re-opened.
The initial exposure of Savile has uncovered abuse that seems to have permeated every aspect of society, unacceptable behaviour that those in authority accepted for decades. Only last week, Rick Parfitt of Status Quo blithely told a female journalist ‘everybody was at it’ at Top Of The Pops ‘…there was a lot of groping’.
Yesterday, a newspaper asserted that the unit investigating sexual misconduct at the Corporation has received complaints involving 29 BBC staff and presenters.
Let’s be clear, the media are not pursuing a witch hunt against the BBC (as Jonathan Dimbleby asserts), but responding to the righteous indignation of the mistreated, ordinary men and women who were never believed up to now.
When I said on television that my hairdresser touched me inappropriately when I was about ten or 12, and my mother just slapped me and called me a liar, loads of you recounted similar stories.
They describe being abused as teenagers, never able to tell their stories, or if they did, they were routinely disbelieved. One man kept quiet about being abused by a group of older boys at school until he was in his 60s, and then had a breakdown.
Men and women have written to me who worked in television make-up and costume departments when they were young, who endured routine molesting from big stars with fragile egos as part of the job. This isn’t mass hysteria — we are at the start of a healing process, and the tragedy is that many of the perpetrators are dead.