October 28, 2012 Comments Off on BBC in a spin as sex scandal escalates – Jimmy Savile
BBC in a spin as sex scandal escalates
October 27, 2012
A long list of blunders over its treatment of molester Jimmy Savile is haunting the broadcaster, writes Jane Wheatley.
He was the biggest television star in Britain, courted by prime ministers, princes and the Pope. And now the millions of people who had watched, laughed at and grew up with the late Sir Jimmy Savile, OBE, KCSG, are trying to come to terms with the fact that he had been sexually abusing underage girls for 50 years. It was shocking, people agreed, and yet somehow not surprising: when you watch old clips of him fondling star-struck children, it all seems so obvious – and shameful. Why hadn’t they realised?
More to the point, why did the BBC fail to investigate the rumours that we now know were rife in the ’60s and ’70s: that their golden goose, kingpin of top-rating shows Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It , was entertaining young girls from studio audiences in his dressing room and at post-show parties, delivered to him by program assistants. Or that when he was out on the road running for charity he took young fans to bed in his campervan.
And after Savile’s death last year, why was an investigation into his predatory activities by the BBC’s flagship current affairs show, Newsnight, suddenly dropped – to be followed a month later by two fulsome tribute programs? And why did the BBC file away incendiary evidence gathered by Newsnight producer Meirion Jones and reporter Liz Mackean, only to see the same material used by its arch competitor, ITV, in a report screened a year later, which delivered compelling testimonies from more of Savile’s alleged victims….
The allegations are bad enough: that Savile not only cherry picked young fans for sexual favours, but targeted the most vulnerable – in hospitals, at Broadmoor secure psychiatric institution and at Duncroft, an approved school for emotionally disturbed girls. As a celebrity volunteer and fund-raiser he was often given his own flat or dressing room where he took his ”victims”. “The younger the better,” was Savile’s motto, according to his biographer, Dan Davies.
But Savile was not particularly secretive about his activities – staff at those institutions now seem, at some level anyway, to have known what he was up to. So why did nobody do anything?
One by one, Savile’s former BBC colleagues and producers were hauled out of retirement as Panorama presenter Shelley Jofre asked that question.
As a young reporter, Martin Young joined Savile on a charity run and found him lying on the bed in his campervan with a teenage girl.
“I thought he was a pervert,” Young told Jofre. Did he think about reporting it? “No, it never crossed my mind, and I take my share of blame for that.”
Reporter Bob Langley saw girls – “12, 13, possibly 14, definitely not 15” – coming out of the campervan. “[Savile] indicated to me in a nudge-nudge sort of way that he had just had sex with one of them … Should I have reported it? What would have happened? He would have said it was a joke and that would be the end of it.”
On one show Savile brought his friend Gary Glitter – later a convicted paedophile – onto the set, where they both sat cuddling young girls. “I’m giving girls away here,” Savile chortled. “We’ve got them from everywhere, we’ve even got some from Broadmoor.” He was routinely filmed in clinches. “The BBC bought into Savile’s sexually suggestive style big time,” Jofre said….