Broadmoor is a bleak sounding name. Its  150-years old, an  asylum, sixty miles from London that is expanding out to meet it. It used provide a daytrip for gentile Londoners to go and gawk at Broadmoor’s inmates. Now the cameras have been invited inside. I’m not really sure why.

Broadmoor we are told holds 200 ‘patients’ at a cost of £300 000 per year, per patient, an annual cost to the NHS of £60 million pounds a year (or one Millenium Dome). Note the word patient. In the world of the sad, the bad and the mad these are classified as the the last of these. So it’s home to Peter Sutcliffe and the Krays and somebody else whose name I can’t remember, but I’m sure must have killed a number of folk. The other residents that were shown seemed far more sad than bad. A young boy in particular, with a working diagnosis of Asperger’s had, we were told, tried to murder his family. His artwork was stunning.

Then we had middle-aged Lennie, who seemed a bit hyper. He had threatened to cut a psychiatrist’s head off with a machete. Some people might think that wouldn’t be a bad thing. But it got him moved pretty quickly from one mental health unit to Broadmoor.

So far, so blah, blah. Security was Broadmoor’s main concern. We were told that behaviour was controlled. Residents who modified their behaviour and were able to interact with their peers were given greater freedom. Drama came with giving a patient in his room (not his cell, although the door was locked 23 hours a day) a glass of milk. A tag-team of six staff hung about as the door was opened and a glass of milk pushed in. Safety first.

What interested me was that most of the staff were heavy and coloured. That’s the nature of the job. Lots of sitting about and a tendency towards obesity in patients, but also in staff. The coloured bit interested me more because in the mid-seventies when Jimmy Savile gave Rolf Harris a guided tour of Broadmoor most of the staff would have been white and lived in subsidized housing close to the hospital. Jimmy Savile had his own set of keys (so much for security) and was said to have blackmailed staff over the amount in overtime payments they claimed for.

Staff after each ‘incident’ had ‘time out’ to discuss it before going back to work.

Compare Broadmoor with Russia’s Toughest Prison where they keep ‘the Condemned’.

They employ the same system of rewards and punishments for prisoners. These are societies sick. Prisoners who were until recently executed — a change that the warden and some prisoners lament as a change for the worse.

Care was basic. Live or die.

I’m pretty sure you could move patients from Broadmoor to Russia’s toughest prison with annual savings of £55 million pound a year, £550 million in ten years, multiply that by 1000 in property and land sales and we’d almost have enough to buy a Trident missile to save us from the Russians. Needs thinking about in these cost-conscious times.



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…