"The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones," observed Mark Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
. So let it be with Jimmy Savile.
Last night's Panorama was deeply shocking in its revelations (watch it on iPlayer
- 'Contains some upsetting scenes'). Upsetting, indeed, for an entire generation of children who grew up on 'Jim'll Fix It' and the belief that in Jimmy Savile was a man who cared about them, their hopes, wishes and dreams. But let us not pretend that the BBC has absolved itself with this exposé: they investigated themselves and broadcast their tawdry findings only because they'd been caught: rumours about Jimmy Savile had been rife for decades, but no-one in the Corporation acted. Senior executives were told certain facts, made aware of witness testimony and advised about a potential cover-up, but none heeded the warnings.
Jimmy Savile raised a phenomenal £40 million for various charities during his life time - "How's about that, then, guys and gals?" But it appears to have been a means to an end - his end, that is, and getting it away. "Now then, now then, now then," he'd say. It's easy to speak ill of the dead. And as the BBC's Director General George Entwistle appears today before the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, no doubt he will deflect, duck-and-dive and effortlessly defame the memory of the gold-dripping, cigar-smoking, shell-suited celebrity they created.
"Goodness gracious," gasps John Whittingdale, the Chairman of this committee. "As it 'appens, I just cannot believe that a man so depraved and prolific in his offences against children managed to hoodwink the British Government, the Prime Minister, the Honours Committee, the NHS and even the Vatican
Jimmy Savile was awarded the OBE (1970) and a knighthood (1990) 'for services to charity', and was further honoured by Pope John Paul II who made him a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great (KCSG). To be awarded one honour 'inappropriately' may be regarded as a misfortune; to be awarded three looks like carelessness.
Was there no due diligence? Did no-one bother to Google? Did they not even think to read Jimmy Savile's own autobiography, in which he brazenly boasts of his sexual conquests and speaks of a compliant BBC culture? How could this have gone on for 40 years
without anyone at the BBC lifting a finger to prevent a predatory paedophile from raping girls and torturing boys?
And that's something else: the Panorama investigation focused relentlessly on the 'abuse' of young girls. There was one boy interviewed, but the whole bisexual or pan-sexual aspect of of Savile's crimes was scarcely interrogated. This was not 'abuse': it was the chronic, systematic rape and torture of children, and it took place on BBC premises with the apparent knowledge of executive producers and the alleged participation of other sleazy celebrities like Gary Glitter. They'll never be able to screen 'Top of the Pops' again.
Astonishingly, David Nicolson, director of 'Jim'll Fix It', told The Sun
that he caught Savile having sex with a 'very, very young girl' in his dressing room. When he raised concerns about this, he was ridiculed and mocked. It isn't clear why he never reported the crime to the police, but his failure to do so has resulted in the current investigation following 400 lines of inquiry from over 200 witnesses.
200 victims? 400? How many are reluctant still to come forward? How many boys, especially, are silenced by the shame?
Savile died on the 29th October 2011, and the BBC decided that fulsome tributes in their Christmas schedule were more important than a Newsnight investigation into the allegations. At the time, George Entwistle was the head of BBC Vision, and was in charge of the Christmas schedule. One might hope that John Whittingdale cross-examines Mr Entwistle rigorously on that whole process, for surely, in the context of doubts, rumours and witness testimony
, the decision to honour Savile with the BBC's equivalent of a State Funeral was simply and straightforwardly wrong.
Of course, it's easy to be wise in retrospect, and to criticise from a distance. But it must be apparent to any reasonable person that Savile's disgusting behaviour was tolerated by the BBC because its own understanding of truth and morality is inconsistent at best, and perverse at worst. It is not merely still living the sexual revolution of the 60s; it is extending it, constantly pushing at the limits of liberalisation and inculcating a degrading relativism which undermines the conservative and cohesive fabric of society.
The BBC did not merely tolerate Jimmy Savile: he was one with them and they were consubstantial with him. There were and are no moral absolutes in that culture; evil exists only in the eye of the beholder. The pervasive liberal-left ethos corrupts and handicaps all that it pretends to care for: to report Jimmy Savile's sexual proclivities is to be judgmental; to be judgmental is to be narrow-minded; to be narrow-minded is to believe that you possess the truth; to possess the truth inclines you to force your values upon others; it is to acknowledge 'sin' or falling short of a certain standard.
The BBC's postmodernist dogma is antithetical to such absolutes: they are simply not admitted in their canons of tolerance. They hold to no truth, espouse no responsibility and repudiate all notions of morality. Even as they pretend to investigate themselves for their moral failings, there will still be many within its walls who will look at Jimmy Savile with pride, admiration and even envy.