Leering pictures of a deeply weird yesteryear ‘personality’.
Another report has been released about the behaviour of the late DJ Jimmy Savile – and it’s so baroque that it reads like a penny dreadful from the 19th Century… Sex with dead bodies, making rings out the glass eyes of victims, dragging small children to uncertain doom… What’s certain and true is that children’s homes and hospitals were so awestruck by a light entertainment star (& in the case of the 80s Tory government) so hostile to the Trade Unions that they’d allow him unlimited access to vulnerable people.
I wonder if part of the story’s strangeness is due to the showbiz world Savile became famous in – smut and sick jokes furtively prevailed from the sexy schoolgirls of St. Trinian’s to the mock-rock-horror of Screaming Lord Sutch… It was a tasteless, confused era negotiating it’s way from overt Victorian prudery to pill-popping permissiveness… England was also clinging to the old faith in enthusiastic amateurs, welding it to the new meritocracy of teen-pop-telly.
I don’t doubt that Savile was a sex pest… and the last vestiges of his slap and tickle chase the secretary round the table universe of unwelcome fumbling needs obliterated… but I do wonder if our reaction has reached a pitch of Gothic excess that will seem embarrassing and unbelievable in years to come… And I’m clinging to the hope that some of his sicker jokes may truly have been jokes, whatever else he was up to…
Although – I may be delusional – here’s a brilliant and surprisingly self-aware interview conducted by Lynn Barber – where Jimmy does seem to have an almost Dennis Nilson attitude to the dead (they’re all yours) as well as some footage of Screaming Lord Sutch – a lost soul who spent the 1980s and 1990s standing in parliamentary elections under the name ‘The Monster Raving Loony Party’ :