I MET Jimmy Savile briefly in the 1980s when I was working on Dr Who. A young man had written asking if he could ‘fix it’ for him to meet the Doctor and travel in the Tardis.
A special scene was written, called A Fix with the Sontarans, which we duly rehearsed and recorded. After the lad had saved the day and the Sontarans had been ‘fixed’, Savile entered the set and did his usual self-congratulatory shtick. I didn’t warm to him. His demeanour was neither friendly, nor inclusive. He behaved much as one might expect a child to behave who had been indulged and led to believe that life revolved around them.
There was certainly none of the professional respect that one would expect to be shared when two programmes combine for a special purpose. Even though we were on the Tardis set, it was very much his territory and his agenda.
His eyes were cold and his demeanour patronising. I recall clearly the disappointment I felt for the young boy for whom I suspect the whole experience was daunting and overwhelming. The other actors and I had worked hard over a couple of days to create a relaxed atmosphere, but the first and only time he saw Savile was when he came on the set when the cameras were rolling. At least it was I who got to put the Jim’ll Fix It medallion around his neck.
There is of course a huge difference between finding someone creepy and patronising and suspecting them of being a sexual predator. I only hope that the BBC’s failure to investigate him does not tarnish, in the eyes of the world, an organisation that has rightly been regarded as a bastion of honest and honourable broadcasting for decades.
There may have been individuals who could or should have been braver in confronting the unpleasant possibility of his depravity when rumours and accusations surfaced, but that is evidently also true of the hospitals and mental institutions that trusted him to the extent that he had his own set of keys for Broadmoor with living quarters on the site and a bedroom at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
A picture is emerging of a man unusually adept at manipulation and concealment. Identifying willing co-conspirators and abusers is much more important than demonising the bamboozled who may have thought their suspicions so far off the scale of decent human behaviour as to be unbelievable.