The Other Side of Jimmy Savile

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Former detective Mark Williams-Thomas conducts an investigation into allegations that Sir Jimmy Savile sexually abused vulnerable teenage girls.

That Jimmy Savile fancied young girls is beyond doubt. He never married, and colleagues say he simply wasn’t interested in women over 20. As long ago as 2000, Louis Theroux was publicly raising the possibility that the shell-suited entertainer might be a paedophile. And yet, nobody wanted to know. Newspapers, politicians, the thousands of people who loved the saviour of vulnerable children, they all turned a blind eye.

Like MPs’ expenses and phone hacking, the Savile case is another example of a crime so familiar within its own industry that nobody thought to address it. Childline founder Esther Rantzen last week accused the world of TV, herself included, of “colluding” in a cover-up. Even as recently as last year, the BBC was so terrified of revealing that a national treasure, created largely by itself, was also a cold-hearted monster.

So, it’s fitting that the medium that made Savile has now destroyed him. I can’t remember the last time a TV documentary broke a major story, and former police detective Mark Williams-Thomas is to be applauded for conducting a thorough and level-headed investigation in Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile. He interviewed five women, whose allegations against Savile were startlingly similar: each spoke of a short, brutal encounter, either in his dressing room, or in a caravan, or in his car.

It made for depressing viewing, as each victim told her tale. There was no sensationalism: the unpalatable details spoke for themselves. It was a rare event in modern television: a documentary with no need for flannel or fancy camerawork. It was a straightforward piece of investigative journalism, a story the News of the World would once have prided itself on running.

All credit to Williams-Thomas for tracking down Savile’s victims and persuading them to go on the record. Since the programme aired, at least 11 women have come forward, and Paul Gadd, aka Gary Glitter, and a third celebrity have been accused of indecency. The pity is that Savile isn’t around to defend himself, but the similarity between the testaments has convinced experts on abuse that they are genuine.

Williams-Thomas’s documentary is only the beginning. Now, the BBC, investigative journalists, and everyone who knew about the rumours but failed to act must ask themselves why. The interviewed victims and colleagues all said that they were frightened of Savile, and that even if they did speak out, they wouldn’t be believed. If anything can be learned from this story, it’s that we ignore uncomfortable evidence at our peril. The trouble is, with each revelation of this kind, we lose a bit more trust in society, especially in those who work with vulnerable people.

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  • paul

    all the ppl who got interviewed in this show are saying this now…why not say this 20 years ago…why not say this then??..fucking cowards

  • Peter Ho

    Yes, wait till the men’s dead and speak out. This really tell me how power can overcome anything anywhere.

  • mcintosh

    hes a perv all u have to do is look at him paul and peter are ye pervs too defending him do ye like little girls too, he was a scum bag plain and simple

  • Mutchie

    I agree WHY say nothing then ? i will tell you why cause he was famous and they were star struck by him think about it he was loved by MILLIONS !!!!

  • Sid Rip

    savile was a very powerful man thats why no one said anything to the police anyway who would believe the person who said jimmy savile the man who raised £50 million for charity and is a so called pillar of the community abused people

  • Jaymes Moynihan

    Makes my skin crawl,….that clip of him and Gary Glitter during his tv show was shocking…even in front of cameras and an audience, they had no shame in our they acted…its scary…

  • Heather

    Wow. The women are “fucking cowards” ? How about this old ugly ass man looking like he-man on crack is the fucking coward…he can’t get anyone his own age so he has dupe little girls into molestation and rape through his celebrity status…that is the fucking coward!

  • sean

    they were obvioulsy too scared you dick

  • Sheik

    I humbely apologize to the whole american nation , because i allways tought that the americans are stupid . but what i saw in this documentary , shocked me .. this guy is molesting girls in fronth of the tv camera ant the whole british nation is watching this as an entertainment ???and even the whole nation is seeing this they still worship this child abuser body take action agains this phedofile . I never seen a stupidity as this in my whole life . bbc well done the right man on the right place ..

  • sheik

    I dont think that these women are cowards no not at all , in that time who gonna listen to them ?? so it is a lack of no education to say that there are cowards , because the whole British nation worshiped this Pedo.. so they could not rase their voice , their voice would be hammered down . ( did you who are calling them a coward did you gonna believe them ????) be honest the whole nation was blind , and BBC gived this Pedo.. what he needed young girls , so i really dont understand your complain blame BBC they coverd him up even they can see the footage BBC is the Real Coward .

  • jcdkncjkdsnkj

    liking teenage girls doesn’t make him a pedophile. teenagers aren’t children, and considering that the age of consent in the uk has always been around 14-16 … the fact like he “only like women under 20″ doesnt make him a monster, it just makes him a dirty old man.


  • bringmeredwine

    I was touched most by Charlotte’s story. She stood up to this guy and look where it got her!

  • bringmeredwine

    Charlotte’s story really emphasizes how protected this guy was. When she stood up to him and defended herself from his groping, she was punished by the other adults and they tried to force HER to apologize! Unbelievable how everyone was so complicit.

  • Dave

    He was more than a dirty old man, he was a necrophiliac, a satanist and a paedophile and more. Stop sanitising Jimmy Saville. He was a procurer of children for Ted Heath and the Royals. Do the research.

  • jenny

    the issue at hand was that they were not willing participates…..they were humiliated, scared, and more…