Key extracts: Jimmy Savile’s abuse at BBC premises and how colleagues viewed him
Retired judge Dame Janet Smith’s inquiry into paedophile Sir Jimmy Savile highlights how the BBC showed a programme that exposed its star as “deeply unattractive”.
The BBC’s own programme, presented by Louis Theroux in 2000, even raised the issue of Savile’s paedophilia.
Exaro also uploads with this piece PDFs of key extracts from the five chapters in Smith’s draft report that cover perceptions of Savile at the BBC, including the views of fellow star presenters, his widespread sexual abuse directly linked to the corporation or its premises, and the “danger signals” that went unheeded or even unnoticed by the broadcaster.
“The programme is littered with other unattractive comments by Savile” – Dame Janet Smith, review report, on Louis Theroux’s film
In this second of five packages of pieces, Exaro reports on how Smith’s report shows the sheer scale of awareness within the BBC of Savile’s sexual misconduct before his exposure in 2012.
Click on the links below to download PDFs of fuller extracts from Smith’s draft report on who knew what about Savile at the BBC. The extracts with this package of pieces include the following passage from Smith’s report about “one very strange rumour” that was reported to her by someone “who worked for the BBC for many years”:
She recalled an occasion when having a drink with colleagues in Light Entertainment, being told that, “Mothers take their daughters to Jimmy Savile… for him to sort them out.” It was clear that the others had heard this before and that they were talking about something sexual… I would have been tempted to think that [the woman] had either misheard or mis-remembered the occasion, were it not for the fact that there is evidence that Savile himself said something similar to [another witness sexually assaulted by Savile] when he took her out for supper.
Smith writes in the following extracts of Savile’s boasting about connections to the royal family and senior politicians.
A freelance director on Jim’ll Fix It in 1994 told me that Savile never tired of telling people how members of the royal family or a senior politician would call him for advice because they apparently saw him as “an ordinary man of the people”. Mrs [name redacted by Exaro] seemed amazed at the ease with which Savile arranged for Princess Diana to come to BBC Television Centre to sign a ‘Say No’ board when the BBC was running an anti-drugs campaign.
Roger Ordish, the producer of Clunk Click and Jim’ll Fix It, agreed that Savile had a strong sense of his own star status; his attitude was “I am the mountain.” In other words, it was for others to come and see him: he would not go to them. Savile used to exaggerate his importance. Mr Ordish gave as an example an occasion when he and Savile went to Israel (in connection with a fix on Jim’ll Fix It) at which there was a reception with the Israeli President. Later, Mr Ordish heard Savile boasting that he had been called upon to give advice to the Israeli Government.
Mr [name redacted by Exaro] gave another example of Savile’s self-importance. At a photo-call for several disc-jockeys in support of Children in Need in the mid-1980s, Savile arrived late and immediately began to talk about how much he had done for the charity. He boasted that clothing he had donated had been auctioned for £1 million. He also said he had built a hospital. It seemed to [the witness] that Savile was making it clear that, while he was prepared to take part in the Children in Need photo-call, he was actually bigger than that event.
[He] also described an occasion when he was in a taxi with Savile driving along Pall Mall past the Athenaeum Club. Savile declared that he was a member of the club and had been nominated for membership by two former Prime Ministers and a Papal Legate. This seemed to [the witness] as though it could have been a boast, but it may well have been true. The Athenaeum has declined to confirm or deny the position.”
In the extracts below, Smith recounts how Louis Theroux, the documentary maker, presented a BBC programme in 2000 that, Smith says, exposed Savile as “deeply unattractive”. It was called, ‘When Louis Met… Jimmy’.
By this time, Savile’s television career was essentially over and he presented (to my eyes at least) as a rather sad, lonely man. The filming was spread over several days and for a man who had kept his private life to himself for so long, it seems strange that he would permit a film crew into his home as he did. Mr Theroux told me that he thought Savile had been missing the public attention he was used to.
As well as reinforcing Savile’s strangely solitary life, the film contained some startling revelations about his ‘zero tolerance’ policy in dance halls in Leeds. In an unguarded moment late at night while talking to the film crew in Mr Theroux’s absence, Savile explained he would not tolerate “any nonsense whatsoever” and was “always in trouble with the law for being heavy-handed.”
Savile described how he would tie people up and put them down in the boiler room until two o’clock in the morning, by which time they would ‘plead to get out’. Savile was the ‘judge, jury and executioner’ in these instances and, if the police told Savile he was too heavily handed, he would retort that the police would presumably want him to look after their 16-year-old daughter if she had come into town. This worked, with Savile never getting ‘nicked’. Later in the programme, Savile dismissed this anecdote as simply a figure of speech, but that is not how the story comes across.
The programme is littered with other unattractive comments by Savile. For example: that if the film were negative about him, he would “see you in court, take a few quid off you, same as take a few quid off anybody, money has no conscience.” He said he was “feared in every girl’s school in Britain”.
Early in the programme, he said, “I can get anything, me. There’s nothing I can’t get, and there’s nothing I can’t do.” The film showed his habit of kissing, uninvited, female members of the public who came his way.
Savile described his caravan as his “love nest”, where he had been able to see women away from his mother – to do so in the flat then shared in Scarborough would have shown a lack of respect. Savile also described how he used to sleep outside Broadcasting House in his caravan. As for having girlfriends, Savile said that he had “friends that have girls, 8 million. But a girlfriend in the sense of today, in sense of, ie you are together, don’t bother with anyone else etcetera, no, never… not even for a week.”
Towards the end of the film, Savile is drawn into speaking about the rumour and suspicion that surrounded him. Asked why he had said in interviews that he hated children when he appeared to enjoy their company and have a good rapport with them, Savile explained, “Obviously, I don’t hate ’em,” but said it was because “we live in a very funny world, and it is easier for me, as a single man, to say, ‘I don’t like children,’ because that puts a lot of salacious tabloid people off the hunt.” Pressed as to whether this concerned questions of paedophilia, Savile continued: “Yes, yes, yes, oh aye. How do they know whether I am or not? How does anybody know whether I am? Nobody knows whether I am or not. I know I’m not, so I can tell you from experience that the easy way of doing it, when they say, ‘Oh, you have all them children on Jim’ll Fix It,’ is say, ‘Yeah, I hate ’em.’” Mr Theroux thought this might raise suspicion, but Savile replied: “That’s my policy, that’s the way it goes. That’s what I do, and it’s worked a dream… A dream.”
Reading this material now, with the benefit of what we know about Savile’s true nature, one is struck by the man’s extraordinary confidence. He was prepared to talk about the fact that he had numerous casual sexual relationships, without any apparent fear that anyone would pop up and say, “Yes, and I was only 15 when you did it to me.”
But setting aside the benefit of hindsight, Savile comes over as deeply unattractive.
Exaro revealed last July that Theroux’s programme on Savile had featured in Smith’s review, and that BBC executives were anticipating strong criticism for the corporation’s failure to take heed of the warning signs.
Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread
Source documents and file downloads are only available to registered users.