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The Sick Legacy of Jimmy Savile
Revelations that the BBC DJ was a serial sex abuser are consistent with the twisted egotism of his image. So how did he get away with it for so long?
Niall Stokes, 02 Nov 2012
I always thought Jimmy Savile was a complete abomination. Eccentrics and rogues can indeed be lovable, but the one-time BBC DJ and Top Of The Pops presenter gave the breed a bad name. He made my skin crawl.
I am not claiming any presience here. I knew nothing about his twisted career as a sex abuser. I had no idea that he spent a huge part of his life feeling up unsuspecting girls and arranging trips to special needs schools to foist himself on underage kids. But everything about him gave me the creeps. I didn’t like his ludicrously kitch get-ups. I didn’t like the show-piece cigars. I didn’t like the pink sunglasses. I deeply distrusted his showy devotion to his mother, whom he described as “the only woman for me”. And the self-conscious kiddie DJ babble appalled me. There is always something deeply wrong with adults behaving in a grossly infantile way. Now that the grisly truth has started to emerge about his predilections, no-one epitomises this in a more sinister way than Sir Jimmy Savile.
Everything about him screamed of self-aggrandisement on a vast scale, of arrested development dressed up as buccaneering individualism. It made sense that he wanted to be buried in a gold coffin. His life was a monument to vulgar egotism.
I often wondered how he got away with it, turning such grotesque base material into the stuff of popular culture celebrity. But of course he did far more than that: Jimmy Savile successfully wormed his way into the affections of the British TV viewing public. He became a national institution. It was his ultimate defence, a screen behind which he could hide his inveterate nastiness.
As is the case with many of the most insidious paedophiles, Savile was supremely devious. He himself came up with the idea for Jim’ll Fix It, a programme which was created as a magnet for children – which got the green light from the BBC in 1975 and ran at prime time every Saturday evening for almost 20 years. The format was simple: kids wrote in with wishes that the programme-makers went about fulfilling. Its success was a triumph for nauseating sentimentality.