Monday, 22 October 2012

Savile and the BBC: let's stay focussed

Have you ever met a paedophile? If you’re fortunate enough not to have been sexually abused as a child, there are only two answers to this: yes, or I don’t know.

I was unfortunate enough to have had to work with beasts in a "therapeutic" environment, and have seen first-hand how extraordinarily manipulative many can be, so much so that even outside the sexual arena they can make the most outrageous propositions seem like perfect sense. Until, that is, they’ve got what they wanted and you’re left wondering how on earth you were fooled.

So in a sense I can empathise with Edwina Currie (right) who, when Health Minister in 1988, put Jimmy Savile at the head of a task force running Broadmoor Hospital, where he abused residents. Her decision must of course be investigated, but hopefully by a team staffed by people with experience of the persuasive and chameleon-like qualities of intelligent abusers.

Whether the same latitude should be shown to the BBC is in the balance. While I’m sure that many of its foot-soldiers are devastated by what the Corporation’s enabled Savile to do, senior people at the Beeb knew precisely what that was. At best they washed their hands of his victims, at worst persuading families not to pursue action because the fans wouldn’t understand.

What we have to do is stay focussed on how the BBC buried reports of Savile’s tendency and not get distracted by minutiae. Yes, Savile looked odd; he acted bizarrely; many thought him weird; he didn’t have a life partner. Yet these are not indications of predatory intent, either singly or in combination. We need to cast light on how ratings matter more than lives in the BBC’s shadowy corridors of power, not let our rage dissipate heatedly and ineffectively on our own straw men.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Resources

Exposure: The other Side of Jimmy Savile - ITV documentary that started the ball rolling

Jimmy Savile - what the BBC Knew - Panorama documentary due to be broadcast 10:35 on BBC1: follow link for i-Player

Newsnight and Jimmy Savile - blog by Newsnight editor Peter Rippon on why the Savile investigation piece was dropped

End of the license-fee for post-Savile BBC? - 300 words

BBC abd Savile: remind you of anything? - 300 words

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