Dan Davies (2014) In Plain Sight The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile

It’s worth paraphrasing George Orwell here: A man who gives a  good account of himself is possibly lying, since any life viewed from the inside is simply a sense of defeats.’

Jimmy Savile never admitted defeat. The stories he told others was of his success as Bevan Boy, his tragic accident underground, prayers and miraculous recovery, stamina as cyclist and road racer, his pioneering of using turntables and records rather than bands to fill the Mecca halls he managed, in fact, to become the first Disc Jockey. Jimmy Savile for having a platinum blond mop of hair and was famous for being famous, for loving his old mother, ‘The Duchess’ and for doing charity work. He admitted to having some dodgy friends, but working in the nightclub business he met all sorts. Sure he had girls. All sorts of girls. He made no secret of this. But having a partner he said would give him ‘brain damage’ and in his first meeting with Dan Davies he asked him what was different about his kitchen? Davies already knew the answer to that one. ‘No cooker.’ Savile delighted in that, saying it would give woman the wrong idea. ‘Brain damage’. There’s lots of repetition in Davies’s book, but there was lots of repetition in Savile’s life.  But who exactly was he trying to impress?

The answer was everyone and anyone. Davis recounts anecdote after anecdote of how successful Savile was. Much of Davies’s research uses newspaper reports of the times: The Express (which he wrote a column for) The Telegraph, The Sun, The Mail. They’re all here. Reports from the BBC archives. The Polard enquiry.

Look back to 1971: ‘Jimmy Savile was chosen to present Top of the Pops leading up to the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, two hours were put aside to all him to tell the story of his life.’

Davies’s juxtaposes this with a quote from the Sunday Times: ‘Jimmy Savile is the BBC’s not so secret Christmas formulas, with new added RELIGION’.

Savile had been not only the face of the BBC, but also had been invited to join Lord Longford’s fifty-two strong commission of inquiry into pornography. Among clergymen, psychiatrists and the great and the good other notable public figures included Cliff Richards.

‘The king has no clothes on,’ says the small boy…


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