A Rolls-Royce, a red couch and a reputation buried
IF YOU GREW up, as I did, glued to Jim’ll Fix It, you wanted so badly to be any one of the incredibly lucky children on Jimmy Savile’s sofa.
Later you realised he was at the creepily weird end of the eccentric spectrum, but, still, in the run-up to the broadcast of Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile (UTV, Wednesday) the allegation that the ubiquitous celebrity was a predatory paedophile, using his fame to rape and abuse young girls, was shocking.
It was hard to listen to the stories of abuse told by the women now in their 50s and about how, as a predator, he put himself in the position of being around young girls. But it was stomach-churning to see his male contemporaries recalling Savile during the 1970s, with an attitude of “everyone knew he liked ’em young”, and that risible nondefence: “In those days you couldn’t tell whether a girl was 15, 16 or 18.”
The newspapers filleted this documentary for stories all week, so little of what his victims said was revelatory, but, intercut with archive footage of Savile’s programmes, in which he was surrounded by teenage girls or driving his Rolls-Royce – the symbol of his power and in which some of the abuse took place – it was grimly compelling.
Minor re-edits, on foot of the prebroadcast media coverage, included a statement from the BBC, in whose studios some of the abuse took place, regretting the events and offering co-operation with any investigation.
The re-edits also added that more women are coming forward to the programme’s presenter, Mark Williams-Thomas, a former forensic detective, to say they, too, were abused by Savile.
A visibly upset Esther Rantzen was the only celebrity interviewed, even though Savile was surrounded by famous people during his life. “It was the adult world who created this mythical figure, who was beyond blame. We in some way colluded with him as a child abuser.”
Questions remain about the timing of the news. In a BBC programme 10 years ago Louis Theroux asked Savile straight out about the allegations of paedophilia, so they were more than a vague rumour. Was his celebrity really enough to shield him for this long, to stop anyone investigating so that the story could emerge only after his death? The broadcast of this documentary buried Jimmy Savile’s reputation.
IT HAS Afanbase that’s nearly as obsessive as Brody, its former prisoner-of-war protagonist, and it dominated this year’s Emmys, so the first in the new series of Homeland (RTÉ Two, Tuesday) was a must-see. The inevitable recap of the first series was skilful and quick, although it was a shame the gut-twisting tension of the season finale didn’t end when it logically should have, with Brody wearing a vest packed with explosives blowing everything sky high.
So now we know he’s gone over to the other side to work for his Muslim extremist captors, which means the “is he or isn’t he a terrorist?” cliffhanger that drove every moment of the first series is gone. It has been replaced with a “how far will he go to help the enemies of the US?”, which may not prove so tense.
The obsessive bipolar agent Carrie Matheson (Claire Danes), thrown out of the CIA at the end of the last series, is back in action, dragged in to retrieve intelligence from a contact in Beirut about an attack on the US. And we’re off, getting happily sidetracked in the multilayered subplots and the interplay between the mesmerising characters.