Jimmy savile

I watched it so that you didn’t have to: ITV2’s Big Brother reviewed

Big Brother is Nineteen Eighty-Four rewritten by Aldous Huxley. The detail that George Orwell got wrong is that far from being terrified and brainwashed into submission by Big Brother, the populace would embrace the all-seeing eye as their route to fame, prosperity and freedom. Some of the populace, at any rate. We met 16 of them – there were 30,000 applicants, allegedly – on ITV on Sunday night, mugging and pratting around and enjoying their newfound semi-celebrity en route to entering the new-look Big Brother house, vying to win a £100,000 prize and, presumably, a career in minor-league showbiz by abasing and humiliating themselves in public. Into monopede DJs with

The BBC is self-destructing

There are still 27 people left in the British Isles – at the time of writing – who are unaware of the name of the BBC presenter who allegedly paid a teenager lots of money to look at pictures of their bottom and so on. Some of them are on the remote windswept island of Foula, I believe. The rest are members of the chap’s family. Its complaints procedure is not designed to discover the truth and adjudicate appropriately I quite envy those who have not yet been told via that conduit for concentrated human misery, social media. There was a rather wonderful couple of days when the name was

How did he even fool the Duke of Edinburgh? Netflix’s Jimmy Savile – A British Horror Story reviewed

The only impersonation I can do is my Jimmy Savile impersonation. This is not uncommon among people of my generation: if you were a child or a teenager in the 1970s and 1980s, Savile was quite possibly the most famous person in your entire world. His show Jim’ll Fix It was the most popular on TV with weekly audiences of 20 million. From Top of the Pops to his endless chat-show appearances promoting his relentless work for charidee, he was excruciatingly ubiquitous. Also, with his long, helmet–shaped, wig-like white hair, his garish tracksuits, bling jewellery and extravagant cigars, his catchphrases (‘Now then, now then’; ‘as it ’appens’) and his distinctive

CCHQ’s unfortunate Jimmy Savile link

Oh dear. Just last week, on the day that Boris Johnson raised National Insurance, it was pointed out to the bright young things at Tory high command that they might want to remove from their website his, er, manifesto pledge to not hike the tax. It’s still proudly displayed there online as part of six manifesto commitments, adorned by Johnson’s own prominent signature.  More pressing still might be the replacement of their current slogan: ‘You started it, now be part of it,’ urging internet browsers to sign up and join the Conservative party. For, as Times columnist Matt Chorley noted in one of his recent shows, the words have an unfortunate echo with the theme tune to

PMQs: Boris doubles down on Jimmy Savile claims

Today’s PMQs suggests that some of the immediate heat has gone the partygate crisis, if only temporarily. Sir Keir Starmer did not make all his questions about parties, instead widening out his attacks to Conservative tax policy. The faces of most of his backbenchers froze as he doubled down, saying that Starmer had apologised for what the CPS had done Starmer did though open by complaining about the behaviour of the Prime Minister in Monday’s statement on the Gray report, saying that the leader of the party of Winston Churchill was now repeating the conspiracies of ‘violent fascists to try and score cheap political points’. Curiously, Boris Johnson chose to

Is the life of Jimmy Savile a suitable subject for drama?

One day in 1975 the Israeli cabinet found themselves being lectured on the most intractable political problem of our age — how to bring peace to the Middle East — by a peculiar white-haired British entertainer wearing a pink suit with short sleeves. His name? Jimmy Savile. That’s how he told it anyway. Remarkably, witnesses back up the generality if not the specifics of the anecdote. Savile indeed visited the Holy Land in 1975. And he did talk to the Israeli president Ephraim Katzir, saying (so he claimed): ‘I’m very disappointed because you’ve all forgotten how to be Jewish and that’s why everyone is taking you to the cleaners.’ Jimmy

Keeping yourself angry, the Hare way: We Travelled, by David Hare, reviewed

A character in David Hare’s Skylight claims she has at last found contentment by no longer opening newspapers or watching television. ‘Well,’ says her astounded interlocutor, ‘you’re missing what’s happening. You’re missing reality.’ Hare himself can never be accused of missing (or missing out on) the reality of what is happening. He has already even mounted his response to ‘what it was like to experience Covid-19’ in Beat the Devil, starring Ralph Fiennes. His instinct has always been to tackle current affairs, sometimes with surreal consequences. When I saw Pravda, which was about Rupert Murdoch and his henchmen, the stalls were filled with Rupert Murdoch and his henchmen — art

Louis Theroux’s podcast reveals a master at work

I always want to know more about Louis Theroux, which is odd, since I’ve seen so much of him already. I’ve seen him hanging out with Nazis, auditioning for Broadway and undergoing liposuction. I’ve seen him chased by scientologists and given the runaround by Jimmy Savile. I’ve even seen him evading the insistent romantic advances of an American sex worker. Why am I still interested? Perhaps it’s that his personality veers close to seeming like an act. The otterish earnestness, the jerky, mannequin physicality. The spectacles that feel like a prop. There is something in me that wants to lift the lid on the real Louis Theroux, to sweep the

We’ve made morons of our police force

I never believed Carl Beech’s allegations that he had suffered multiple depravities, including sexual abuse, at the hands of various very prominent members of the old conservative establishment. As a young journalist during the 1980s, I came into contact with many of the people named in Beech’s supposed evidence and on not a single occasion did one of them try to coerce me into sexual intercourse. That they would have done so, had they been inclined, is beyond doubt, as I was sexually irresistible back then. Further, I met Sir Edward Heath and at no time did he try to lock me in a room full of ‘mad’ wasps, nor

Question time | 6 October 2016

At my wife’s first 12-week scan, I was expecting — and duly got — that much-documented sense of thrilled wonder at the grey blobby thing on the screen. What came as a genuine shock, though, was realising the scan also had the entirely undisguised aim of calculating the baby’s chances of Down’s syndrome, on the apparent assumption that, if they were high, we’d want to terminate. In the event, this wasn’t a dilemma we faced — which possibly makes it easy to take the moral high ground. Even so, the whole process left me feeling both uneasy and rather naive. How long had this been going on? Did everybody else

The age of accusation

Mark Lawson’s latest novel, set in Britain in the recent past, presents us with a nation in the grip of ‘moral fever’. Here, the ‘giving offence to anyone at all over anything’ is considered ‘a capital crime’; the ‘post-Savile sexual witch hunt’ has trained people to ‘reinterpret heartbreak as violation’; and retribution comes not just in the form of established legal proceedings, but also of the ‘modern madness of amateur arraignment’. Lawson wants to show how pernicious this culture can be. To do so, he presents us with two characters, both academics, who are out of step with it. Ned Marriot, a media don, is the darling of his university’s

The prodigy

On Tuesday night on Channel 4, a stern male figure peered over his glasses (as equipped with one of those cords favoured by themiddle-aged specs-wearer) and offered us his robust views on how government benefits encourage laziness. Which might not sound that unusual — except that the male figure in question was 12. His name, no less improbably, was Mog and he was a contestant in the new series of Child Genius, now hosted by Richard Osman — these days almost as ubiquitous on television as Susan Calman is onRadio 4. As ever, the first few minutes were spent assuring us how fiendish the quiz would be; but, as ever

RIP Paul Daniels: magician, light entertainer, sexual libertine

Which of us who grew up in the thrall of Paul Daniels’ magic, under the spell of his Saturday-night humour and charm, could have imagined he would spend his latter years as a kind of sexual outlaw? Not many of us, I would wager. But that’s what happened. When, in 2012, he bravely criticised the hysteria over the sexual behaviour of 1970s light entertainers, Daniels went from being viewed as a sweet, ageing refugee from the era of old-fashioned entertainment to being treated as a kind of magician version of the Marquis de Sade. One of the classiest purveyors of light-hearted, family-oriented TV culture in the late 20th century became

Portrait of the week | 3 March 2016

Home An official analysis by the Cabinet Office said that if Britain left the EU it would lead to a ‘decade of uncertainty’. Opponents of Britain remaining in the EU called the report a ‘dodgy dossier’. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that the economy would suffer a ‘profound economic shock’ if Britain left, echoing a communiqué of the G20 which referred to ‘the shock of a potential UK exit’. Boris Johnson revised his suggestion that a vote to leave could bring about a better deal from Brussels; ‘Out is out,’ he told the Times. Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, declared that ministers opposing government policy on

Is the Jimmy Savile report really just an ‘expensive whitewash’?

The Dame Janet Smith report into Jimmy Savile has already been labelled an ‘expensive whitewash’ by a lawyer representing 168 victims, just hours after it was published. The review found that BBC staff knew of complaints and allegations about the entertainer but that little was done to pursue them because of a culture of fear at the corporation. One of the most shocking parts of the report, aside from the details of Savile’s own predatory actions, is tucked away in the review’s summary. Dame Janet Smith writes that: ‘It is clear that a number of BBC staff had heard rumours, stories or jokes about Savile to the effect that, in

Doing the wrong thing

Like The Revenant and The Big Short, Spotlight is yet another Oscar contender ‘based on true events’ — although it has now been suggested that The Revenant was 99.7 per cent made up. (Does this matter? Only, I suppose, in the sense that you should know what you’re watching.) But we’re on firm ground with Spotlight, where the events — the Boston Globe’s uncovering of systemic child abuse by Catholic priests in Massachusetts — are a matter of record, although how you make a film about something so awful, I don’t know. Personally, I wanted the film to give it to the Church with both barrels, and let rip with

The BBC’s promises to change after Savile are as sincere as a prostitute’s smile

It should be easy to admire the BBC’s handling of the Savile scandal. Two of its journalists, Liz MacKean and Meirion Jones, broke the story. Panorama then ran a devastating account of the corporation’s failings which is still worth watching online. This morning the Today programme properly led with the leak of Dame Janet Smith’s report on the multiple rapes Savile committed on BBC premises, which again showed an admirable capacity for self-criticism. Unfortunately, that is all it did. Organisations and individuals are defined not just by their mistakes but how they react to their mistakes. Do they deny and bluster? Or do they confront their flaws and try to

Tom Goodenough

Savile report: 107 BBC staff had heard about Jimmy Savile’s behaviour

So who knew about Jimmy Savile? Dame Janet Smith discloses that no fewer than 107 staff had heard rumours about his predatory behaviour. Some thought he was a paedophile; some even believed that Savile was a necrophiliac. But whilst ‘rumours and stories’ within the BBC about Savile were rife, the Dame Janet Smith inquiry found that many within the corporation were simply content with laughing them off. A leaked extract from the inquiry report found: Most of those who heard rumours about Savile’s sexual life did not appear to have been shocked by them. Many seem to have regarded them as amusing…The rumour most generally heard in the BBC was that Savile was sexually

The sacred mother-baby bond is being eroded by an overzealous state

These figures should send a chill down the spine of anyone who values basic human dignity: in England in 2013, 2,018 newborn babies were taken from their mothers and put into the care of the state. This represents a huge hike from five years earlier, in 2008, when 802 newborns were taken into care. To put it another way: in 2008, 0.1 percent of newborns were taken into the care system, while in 2013 it was 0.3 percent. What’s going on? Education secretary Nicky Moran says the figures, released today by researchers at Lancaster University, are ‘worrying’. She means it’s worrying that so many mums are so rubbish at parenting that their

Eight years’ jail for a girl with a strap-on. What’s Britain coming to?

In a TV stunt, a Brazilian actress recently lay on a beach asking male passers-by to rub suncream into her back. Many were eager to oblige only to recoil, when she turned over and they saw a bulge – a prosthetic penis – in her bikini. It is a good job she didn’t try it here, else she might be facing the best part of a decade behind bars. There have been many times since the accusations against Jimmy Savile came to light three years ago that I have wondered whether Britain’s traditional prudishness over sex is developing into a national psychosis. Is there any other nation where a dozen