Tarnished Treasures


Now that at least five women have appeared to say that they were raped by Sir Jimmy Savile, it triggered an old memory of schoolboy jokes about him and underage girls – why on earth were we making them? How could we have known? It seemed as if Savile was around forever, and his penchant for young girls was a long-standing rumour in the same way that pupils always used to know when a teacher was gay. Then there were the creepy documentaries about him and ‘The Duchess’, the saintly mother he revered to the point of viewer discomfort.

Certainly there were infamous reports about ‘Top Of The Pops’ cameramen and the show admission system that saw underage girls treated as fair game. One producer said ‘It was what we all did in the seventies’. No, only the ones without morals, matey.

Savile also starred in public safety films (one of which is remixed below, and yes, that’s Edward ‘First Men In The Moon’ Judd at the start*) and they were on the agenda at this month’s Duke Mitchell Film Club night, along with ‘Accident At Work’ videos and the cast of Grange Hill showing you how to use a primitive computer. If you ever want to come along to one of their free events, BTW, keep an eye on their Facebook page here.

Savile was one of those intensely annoying people whom television would not let go of, no matter which decade it was. But it seemed we had a list of national treasures who were always in our newspapers and on our screens, including:

Tony Benn
Sterling Moss
Bobby Charlton
Cliff Richard
Cilla Black
Joan Bakewell
Bruce Forsyth
Vera Lynn
Rolf Harris
Roger McGough
Patrick Moore
Una Stubbs
Michael Palin
Alan Bennett

Similar rumours about underaged girls always circulated around Benny Hill. Now it seems that even in death, some of the more inexplicable national treasures can return to make headlines.

*I once managed to ask him whatever had happened to his career at a party, not realising I was talking to him. He told me he got a severe case of stage fright and found it difficult to work.

13 comments on “Tarnished Treasures”

  1. David Read says:

    What I find appalling (apart from Paul Gambaccini being called the Pop Professor) is the way people such as Esther Rantzen moan about how terrible it was ‘but there were always rumours’.

    In that case someone should have said something, and all these DJ’s and celebs coming out of the woodwork should take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask could they have done more. These people were not going to lose their lives like a member of the French resistance, very poor.

  2. Alison says:

    I always found him extremely creepy but I’m afraid that I’m rather cynical about this. Why wait until he can’t defend himself? It’s all very well the BBC staff saying that you didn’t argue with Jim, but these girls didn’t work for him, they should have been eager to bring him down. So whilst I wouldn’t be surprised were this proved, at the moment I remain open minded.

  3. Dan Terrell says:

    Everything I’ve read is that an unfortunately large percentage of females/males do not report. They somehow blame themselves: how did I cause him, perhaps her, to think he/she could go that to ME. I was wrong.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    Yes, Dan, that is common, but what about everyone else on these shows? There are assistants and such like all over the place. If these things (whatever they were) were known then why not take girls aside and warn them at least. Make escape possible. Encourage them to speak up. Speak up oneself because why would you want to work on a program as a procurer? You can’t shrug it off. I had never heard of the man, although I knew of Top of the Pops. I went to Wickipedia and found that his article was updated last Sunday. Was there a race to post it? I also now know about Approved Schools and investigations on the Isle of Jersey. Both of these have figured in mysteries I’ve seen on tv lately and both of the mysteries I thought were extreme. Apparently they didn’t go too far beyond what really happened. There is, however, a tendency for people to make unfounded charges so that they can figure in news stories. I am a little insecure about charges brought after the man has died.

  5. Alan G says:

    All I can say is from my own experience – and I’ll say it here because, while I have not met any of you guys, you sort of have burrowed into my psyche. Provocative, interesting and sometimes scary (hi Snowy).

    About 15 years ago I got a ‘phone call from Glasgow Serious Crime Squad investigating allegations of sexual abuse at a children’s home in Glasgow. “Eversley” if yer interested – the case was widely reported.

    And, yes, I was one of the victims. I was seven to eight years old and alone. I didn’t know the difference between care and abuse. I didn’t understand the bleeding.

    But I was adopted and given a wonderful life with a loving family – taken care of and fed by Mum, strictly educated by my pain-in-the-arse Dad and kept safe by a very daft dog. I forgot about the abuse.

    No – that is not right – I did not forget. I chose not to remember being a victim – but that I spent so many years studying martial arts is maybe telling. Or that my ex-wife accused me of being “emotionally distant” – but what does she know – she got the house.

    But – going back to the call from Glasgow. A Detective came down to London to interview me – and that was awful. I cried but the memories were all there and, it seems were all good stuff. They tied in nicely with other statements.

    I made my statement – but did not have the courage to face the whole thing in Court. I ran away to the middle-east without telling anybody where I was – for years. I could not do it – the person that I am now is very different to the scared little boy that I was then – but I still feel disgusted and inadequate.

    If the accusers are confident in being right – then I understand and applaud their courage. If they are just after money – shame.

  6. Alan G says:

    Oog – when I said “pain-in-the-arse Dad” I meant that he continues to irritate me – not a Freudian slip – he’s just a pain. A dear pain, but annoying.

  7. snowy says:

    Alan while I admire your courage, in sharing your story. I would very, very respectfully question the wisdom of sharing so many personal details with the world at large.

    If I may be allowed to make a suggestion, you could consider asking Admin if he would trim your post to the first and last paras, and remove the codicil.

    It is of course entirely your choice, and to be respected unconditionally.

    This post would also need to be removed.

  8. John Howard says:

    Hi Alan, I can’t appreciate at all what you have gone through as a child because I have never had that experience. What I can say is that if the comment, ‘a trouble shared is a trouble halved,’ is at all applicable in this case, then I think I can speak for more than just myself in saying that I hope your post might give you a feeling of ‘halving’ any trouble.

    As for courage, I think you have displayed considerable courage in just posting.

  9. Dan Terrell says:

    John: I second what you have written. I have been thinking how best to comment and I believe you have done it well.
    I will only add how right and normal it is to feel “disgusted”, but please Not WITH yourself. And how normal for a child, or young person, to feel “inadequate” when faced with an adult; particularly an adult in authority or, perhaps, not.
    There are many swindlers in the world and many are swindled out of their trust, their affection and, the ever popular, their savings; leaving them with a Rubix Cube of emotions to set back in order. Never an easy task for most.
    Not everyone can be a David, Alan, not everyone is ready to be a David as a child. But often a Goliath can be slain years later to good efect. I’d say you getting on with that.

  10. Helen Martin says:

    In my career it was children from First Nations residential schools. I taught them when they came to the public school in grade six and nothing ever came out. Years later I heard some of those students explaining what had gone on in that residence and wanted to murder someone. I wished any one of those children had said something but they hadn’t known me long enough to trust me and wouldn’t have dared. I was always glad we had the laughs we did and that I used a few of the trade language words I knew. They were astounded and I just hope it started a validation of their culture for them. I understand the difficulty for children but not for adults who see things that shouldn’t happen. We are all responsible for the safety of all children. The girls in the case we were discussing were young teens and needed protection even if there was a small element of consent – which couldn’t be given at their age. I’m starting to froth at the BBC which doesn’t seem to have had any concern for the children on their shows. Yucccch.

  11. Anne Fernie says:

    It’s all a bit late in the day for Savile but if anything good is to come of this situation it may be that other, living people who were actively complicit at the time will be exposed and brought to book…..

  12. Alan G says:

    Thank you all. I was a bit scared about Snowys post – I’m too close to the thing and maybe yell before I think.

    It isn’t all bad – I work with the Police and local hospitals as a consultant – silver lining.


  13. glasgow1975 says:

    Esther Rantzen in particular has gone down in my estimation, she was instrumental in setting up Childline but now it seems knew all about these goings on . . .there was no Childline for these girls

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