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Savilegate: Will the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal finish off the BBC?

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When asked by a reporter in 2001 whether he was concerned if he would be remembered as a “conning pervert and abuser when he died,” Jimmy Savile replied:

‘If I’m gone that’s that. Bollocks to my legacy. Whatever is said after I’m gone is irrelevant.’

The reporter then asked if Savile was ‘into little girls’, to which the BBC presenter replied:

‘I’d rather not even opinionate on this. I’ll leave it to the psychologists to sort out the psychology of child abuse.’

Every day a new allegation emerges about Jimmy Savile. These allegations now cover 6 decades, and include allegations of the rape of children, mentally ill patients and the sexual assault of a disabled girl. The police are currently investigating over 300 lines of inquiry.

Savile’s attacks occurred in hospitals, clubs and the BBC. And it is the latter organization that is coming under considerable scrutiny by the police.

The question is how did the BBC employ such an individual, when there were known allegations against him? And what was the everyday culture at BBC that could allow Savile’s behavior to go unnoticed? Uncommented upon? Even tolerated?

A glimpse of how things were at the BBC can be found in Stephen Fry’s second volume of autobiography, The Fry Chronicles (pages 296-297 of the paperback edition), where he described a meeting with the BBC executive Jim Moir in 1983.

Hugh [Laurie] and I were shown into his office. He sat us down on the sofa opposite his desk and asked if we had comedy plans. Only he wouldn’t have put it as simply as that, he probably said something like: ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ which would have been his way of saying: ‘What would you like to talk about?’ Jim routinely used colourful and perplexing metaphors of a quite staggering explicit nature. ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ might be his way of asking, ‘Shall we work together?’ I had always assumed that he only spoke like that to men, but not so long ago Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders confirmed that he had been quite as eye-watering in his choice of language with them. Ben Elton went on to create, and Mel Smith to play, a fictional head of Light Entertainment based on Jim Moir called Jumbo Whiffly in the sitcom Filthy Rich & Catflap. I hope you will not get the wrong impression of Moir from my description of his language. People of his kind are easy to underestimate, but I have never heard anyone who worked with him say a bad word about him. In the past forty years the BBC has had no more shrewd, capable, loyal, honourable and successful executive and certainly none with a more dazzling verbal imagination.

Now retired, Moir recently told the Guardian that he had no knowledge of any allegations against Savile during his term at the Beeb, as either exec or as Head of Light Entertainment.

“There is so much talk about rumours, but I can tell you that neither from external sources or internally, neither by nods and winks or by innuendo, did I receive any scintilla of this story whatsoever, or discuss it or his behaviour with my superiors. There was not a scintilla of this either from Roger Ordish, his producer for 20 years.”

Should we be surprised? Not really. But it makes sense that Moir didn’t hear any allegations when it was seen as okay to use sexist, aggressive and offensive language such as ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ or, ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ on a regular basis. This kind masturbatory boy’s club culture covers up for a lot of unacceptable behavior.
 
More on Savilegate, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
MC ‘Single D’ Starkey does The English Riots Rap


 
Last week the British historian David Starkey got into a lot of trouble on BBC’s Newsnight by claiming that the English riots were caused by “Black” rap culture and praising the notorious politician Enoch Powell. As could be expected his views were jumped on by the far right British National Party, and there has since been a public outcry that many think spells the end of the broadcaster’s career.

Now YouTube user sweetbabyjesus has uploaded a great cut-up video turning Starkey’s statements on the news program into actually quite a passable little rap tune - for an English historian.
 

 
There’s also a sequel called “Even Starker”, you can watch it here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Excellent Russell Brand interview on celebrity culture by BBC’s Newsnight

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I’m very curious to find out what my American cousins make of Russell Brand. Yes, I know you know he’s a comedian, and it’s pretty obvious that guy has the gift of the gab. His reboot of Arthur has just been released (to some pretty damning reviews) so we’re seeing a lot more of his promotional material at the moment. But have you seen him in a context like this? His mouth is off the leash here as usual, but the focus is not on wackiness and jokes but on serious conversation and in particular ruminations on celebrity culture, media narrative and his part in that.

Newsnight is the BBC’s nightly investigative news broadcast, and Jeremy Paxman is the BBC’s masthead “serious” anchorman (Chris Morris’ character in The Day Today is basically Paxman amped up). It’s safe to say they are taking this interview seriously, and it’s great that Paxman doesn’t patronise or talk down to Brand but speaks directly to his intelligence. 

Brand has been a well known TV personality in the UK for the best part of a decade now. He really hit his stride as the host of Big Brother’s Little Brother, a daily, live, audience-based re-cap show where he developed his motor-mouth dandy routine. To see him handle a large crowd of drunken, excited young-people with nothing but the power of words was very impressive. As with Andrew WK, it’s refreshing to see someone dropping their public persona and revealing themselves to be highly intelligent:
 

 
Thanks to Aylwyn Napier for the link!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment