Tag Archives: Jimmy Savile

Hold fire on the BBC – our condemnation will only deepen the management crisis

BBC logo

Poor old Beeb. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  I can’t help agreeing with today’s article from Avaaz – there are plenty of BBC-bashers out there and many of them have a vested interest in the seeing the end of any public funding for the UK’s oldest and – still – most-loved broadcaster (which incidentally, celebrates 90 years of speech radio today). But we all need to consider the alternatives before jumping on the BBC-bashing bandwagon.

I firmly believe that the Savile scandal was the fault not of the BBC but of our culture in general at the time. As many commentators have noted, the Life on Mars mentality that prevailed during the 1970s was exactly that – a world away from the relatively progressive environments that our workplaces and institutions offer now.

Back in the late 1990s I was deputy editor on Trisha (produced by Anglia, then part of the ITV Network) when the scandal of fake guests on TV talk shows broke (it was easy for the tabloids to pick up on because they used the same models and actors for their own centre page spreads).

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Jimmy Savile: an extraordinary popular delusion

Three Wise MonkeysThe past is another country. Let’s not be nostalgic. The Jimmy Savile story is a case in point: it seems many who worked with him saw what he was doing but what they saw was too shocking to calibrate. They literally couldn’t believe their own eyes.

The  more he did it, the more he got away with it. We were stuck in a negative emotional feedback loop. Savile’s public image – that of celebrity, fundraiser and “national treasure” became increasingly powerful.

It’s a modern day version of The Emperor’s New Clothes – an extraordinary popular delusion. We like to think that if it happened again, we would speak out. I sincerely hope so. Photo: Crystal Pajunen