“Hell is empty, all the devils are here!”
William Shakespeare/ The Tempest
The distant continent of America has produced a culture where typologies like Jeffrey Epstein are frequently encountered. Although rare, similar characters also emerge in societies where the culture of civilization is established, such as in England. Jimmy Savile was one such individual. We will first visit a BBC series, taking this opportunity to glance into his interesting and mysterious life, and then connect to Netflix documentaries.
One of the most impactful series of last year was “The Reckoning,” produced by the BBC.
The series, initially expected to be broadcast by the BBC in 2022, in light of events related to Queen Elizabeth II’s death and surrounding controversies, was postponed to 2024. It was then pulled forward to 2023 and aired on October 9 on BBC One. The four-part series narrates how a society is lulled into perceiving monsters as heroes of virtue, through the character of Savile.
The first episode covers his rise as an influential figure in the music and nightclub scene of Northern England and his start as a host on Top of the Pops. The series then transitions to later stages of Savile’s life, basing itself on interviews with author Dan Davies.
Especially in the third episode, it focuses on the period when Savile was at the pinnacle of fame and influence, hosting the BBC One program “Jim’ll Fix It.” This episode investigates how Savile used his position of power and how he silenced the victims of his crimes.
Let’s first provide a general summary:
Born as James Wilson Vincent Savile on October 31, 1926, in Leeds, England, he became one of the most famous British television and radio presenters of the 20th century. However, after his death, the horrific truths that emerged marked Savile as one of modern England’s greatest sexual offenders.
Savile’s life story reveals a very interesting and colorful existence.
During World War II, as a young man, he worked in mining under the Bevin Boys Program. From the late 1940s, he worked as an operator and entertainer in dance halls. Recognized as one of the first DJs in 1958, a time when dance events without live music were not yet widespread, Savile had been involved in sports from his youth, as a cyclist on the Britannia Tour, a professional wrestler, and a long-distance runner, even participating in the 2005 London Marathon at an advanced age.
This strange man, after a brief stint at Tyne Tees Television, started working on both radio and television programs for the BBC from 1964, managing to create new entertainment formats. By 1965, Savile was so famous that the BBC featured him in his own television documentary titled “Britain’s No. 1 DJ.”
Savile first gained fame as a striking presenter on the Top of the Pops hit list program. In the first episode broadcast on January 1, 1964, co-hosted with Alan Freeman, the program featured performances including the then relatively unknown Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” instantly putting him in the limelight in England.
However, the concept that made him both a TV icon and a hero across the country was the family program “Jim’ll Fix It” on BBC1. Savile’s program promised to fulfill children’s dreams, ranging from crossing the Atlantic on the Concorde to taming a lion. To questions about his interest in children, he ironically replied, “I couldn’t get near any of them… I hate them.”
On New Year’s Eve 1969, the “Pop Go the Sixties” program produced by the BBC and ZDF was broadcast in Western Europe.
Savile regularly organized charitable activities and during this process became friends with the family of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. According to his own account, he served as an “informal marriage counselor” between Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the late 1980s.
This odd man lived with his mother Agnes until her death in 1973, introducing her to the public as the “Duchess” and described her as the only true love of his life. According to him, out of respect for his mother, he avoided bringing female guests to his home, but he noted that he had an alternative space in a nearby caravan. After her death, he stayed with her corpse for five days until her funeral and later described this time as enjoyable in an interview.
He left his mother’s bedroom unchanged for nearly four decades and continued to have her clothes cleaned yearly. He never married throughout his life, claiming to have had numerous fleeting love affairs, but never committed to a single partner or spent a full night of love with any girlfriend.
The first official investigation into this sinister man’s twisted side dates back to 1961.
In that year, police first questioned Savile about allegations of having sexual relations with underage girls in the dance halls he managed. In 1985, Savile told The Sun newspaper that he protected himself against potential suspicions arising from his regular interactions with children. He stated he would never “in a million years” take a child to his home or drive them in his car without their parents.
In a 1990 interview with The Independent, journalist Lynn Barber asked Savile about rumors that he was interested in little girls. Savile claimed that these were misconceptions due to journalists not understanding the pop music business. In reality, the girls who were interested in pop stars, with whom he was constantly interacting, were completely unattractive to him.
In 2000, in a documentary for the BBC, documentary maker Louis Theroux first confronted Savile on camera about rumors of pedophilic tendencies, but Savile firmly denied these allegations. He also stated that his previous claim of hating children was not true.
Savile was the patron of Stoke Mandeville Hospital in northwest London for 24 years, and according to a report published after his death (2015), he sexually abused at least 60 people, including staff, visitors, volunteers, and most importantly, patients. Savile regularly roamed the hospital corridors, choosing his victims at will while staff looked the other way. For example, in 1977, he raped an 11-year-old girl who came for skin cancer treatment. In some cases, victims reported the abuse they suffered to staff or parents; no action was taken against the television star at the time due to his fame.
Investigations after his death revealed an incredible figure: Savile had abused over 500 young people and children until his death! Initially, the BBC tried to block documentary and investigative programs on this matter. However, once the truth became irrepressibly evident, it decided to produce a documentary against Savile.
Particularly because of his media and Royal Family connections, Jimmy Savile’s funeral was conducted like a national hero. For a full year, primarily the BBC and the entire country, so to speak, mourned a hero.
His colleague Tony Prince said at the funeral, “If there’s a heaven, he must be laughing now.” He added: “Because if there’s a heaven, he’ll be introducing Elvis above the clouds.”
Young DJs mentored by Savile attended the memorial service and fondly remembered the flamboyant star. One of them, Dave Eager, wearing a bright yellow tracksuit with “Jimmy’s Enthusiastic Assistant” written on it, said, “Everyone who knew Jimmy knows it was a life-changing experience.”
An entire country had been deceived into believing a lie for decades and had embraced an unprecedented pervert as a hero. However, truths have an unchanging habit of emerging, and the trauma of realizing the truth was enough to shatter Jimmy Savile’s gilded image.
In the next article, we will review two documentaries about these two depraved men.