If you follow this blog you will be familiar that I’m a Brit by birth and an American by choice, have been in the US for the past 16ish years. In any event I was absolutely rocked to my Brit core by the breaking Jimmy Savile story. The chances are you haven’t heard of Jimmy Savile until recently. He was massive in the media from the late sixties until he retired a year or so back. He died recently at age 84. If you didn’t grow up in the UK in the 70s/80s it’s hard to explain his standing. At his height he was as famous and beloved as Lucille Ball and Ryan Seacrest combined and as prominent in children’s charity as Jerry Lewis, not as big as Oprah but close to. He had a huge prime time TV show called Jim’ll Fix It in which he made the dreams of thousands of people (mostly kids) come true every week. He was lavished with accolades and awards from the British establishment and was iconic of the BBC and all it achieved…and he was a predator on an epic scale.
In truth I never liked him, I thought he was fake and creepy and I used to joke about his evident (and I thought unhealthy) interest in children. It appears that over a long career at the height of celebrity he molested something between three and four hundred children during his time as a beloved champ of good causes. This makes the Penn State scandal look like a minor misunderstanding between friends. To make matters worse the BBC apparently knew about the problem at least at some level and covered it up. When a BBC documentary program tried to run an expose it got squashed.
It’s a horrible story on every possible level. The ramifications run right to the top and I suspect that by the time the bloodletting is done the BBC will be on life support. The weird thing is that in an odd dark way it’s almost a relief. If I have thought about Mr. Savile at all over the past decade or two it was to reflect that the other shoe never dropped. Gary Glitter is in jail for child pornography, the Catholic Church is in disgrace, Michael Jackson is dead but Jimmy Savile was still there with his ludicrous silver lame suits, catch phrases and huge cigars a beloved national icon. Now over night …he’s not. Somehow that feels like a kind of justice has been served. Not real justice, we can’t give those poor abused kids back their childhoods or peace of mind…but at least he will go down in history as a twisted monster not a smiling hero…and that feels better.