Jimmy Savile: the sexual predator who was protected by all British institutions

The day the British television channel ITV aired the documentary Savile: Portrait of a Predator (Savile, the Predator), in October 2021, many viewers commented on social networks that they had turned off their screens after 10 minutes, unable to bear the disgust and anger that the character and his murky history produced in them. were fulfilled 10 years from death of the eccentric presenter of music program Top of the Pops from the BBC. Little was left to tell. United Kingdom society knew conscientiously, just a few years after his death, all sexual abuse that he committed over the years, taking advantage of his popularity and his closeness to power. In 2013, a study by the London Metropolitan Police and the NSPCC children’s advocacy institution reviewed the nearly 500 rape and harassment complaints filed in a few months by 13 police departments across the country and concluded that the presenter had committed a minimum of 214 crimes against sexual freedomof which more than 70 women and girls had been direct victims, one of them just eight years old.

The disgust that Savile provokes it’s what British society feels when it looks in the mirror of a time it doesn’t like at all. “In my opinion, he was a highly functioning psychopath, and having dealt with hundreds of sexual offenders, [Savile] He was without a doubt one of the most prolific and dangerous with whom I have faced ”, says at the beginning of the documentary – which this Sunday premieres in Spain on the Crime + Investigation channel (22.15) – Gary Pankhurst, one of those responsible for the so-called Operation Yewtree (Operation Black Yew), the police investigation that exposed all of Savile’s misdeeds.

Presenter Jimmy Savile, in an image from the documentary ‘Savile, the predator’.Alamy Stock Photo

The hustler scoundrel who DJed on the dance floors of Manchester and Leeds in the fifties, friend of the local mob and king of the night, got to seduce a BBC that they knew they had to make the leap to pop music, to a new youth culture that was revolutionizing the country and they did not know how to incorporate it into their programming. Savile was the solution, in charge of the music program Top of the Pops. For years, the flamboyant presenter, with his canary yellow hair and outlandish clothing, always surrounded by teenagers on screen, captivated the British. The average audience for the program was 15 million viewers.

Savile felt so unpunished that he used dressing rooms and private rooms to flirting, cajoling and abusing minors under 15, 14 and up to 13 years of age, who even allowed himself to make his approaches live and direct. The documentary captures the moment in which the presenter gropes Silvya Edwards, one of the young women who accompanies him on the set in one of the presentations. “He couldn’t take his hands off me, they were like two immovable rocks,” the woman recalls, many years later, when she sees that young woman writhing with a forced smile as she tries to get away from the predator. She “She managed to normalize abnormal behavior to the point that it no longer seemed like a problem, that it didn’t matter. That was also part of the contamination of the environment, ”says officer Pankhurst.

Jimmy Savile, in a 1990 image during one of the awards he received for his humanitarian work.
Jimmy Savile, in a 1990 image during one of the awards he received for his humanitarian work.Alamy Stock Photo

When Savile passed his forties, and his presence on a music program was already strange and incoherent, he convinced the BBC to give him new programs in good time slots, such as Jimmy’ll Fix It (Jimmy Will Fix It) or Jimmy’s Travels (Jimmy’s Travels). His fame and honor allowed him to mislead all of British society and impose a veil of darkness on his multiple sexual abuses.

He was involved for years in volunteer tasks in the National Health Service (NHS, in its acronym in English). And also there he left a trail of victims. “He directly put his hand under my skirt and began to grope me, I was horrified and paralyzed, unable to scream. She just looked me straight in the eye and smiled.” The person who tells this is called Pauline (a fictitious name, to hide her identity). When she met Savile she was patient at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, specialized in spinal cord injuries. She was paralyzed from the waist down. She was in a wheelchair.

Carlos of England and Jimmy Savile, at a reception at the Army Staff College.
Carlos of England and Jimmy Savile, at a reception at the Army Staff College.Alamy Stock Photo

Savile befriended charles of england, and was able to enter, unannounced, Kensington Palace to greet Diana of Wales. He had good relations with the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and managed, almost at the end of his days, to receive the Order of the British Empire: Sir Jimmy Savile, has been known ever since. An independent audit led by Janet Smith, a former lawyer and former High Court Justice, concluded in February 2016 that “the BBC’s corporate culture had allowed Savile to blend in, and multiple opportunities to stop his conduct had been wasted.” The corporation, the report concluded, was more concerned with protecting its reputation than defending vulnerable and defenseless young women who suffered abuse at the hands of the sexual predator.

When Savile died in 2011, tens of thousands of Britons mourned him. Barely a year later, when the first journalistic investigations revealed the sordidness and impunity of a sexual monster, the public uproar it was especially deep. The tombstone-monument that commemorated the character was demolished and today, the documentary says, he is buried in an unmarked grave, to avoid its desecration. Savile the Predator It continues to be a necessary story, despite the fact that everything has already been told. And there is no way to avoid that, every time the memory of the monster that was Savile arises, most Britons get an uncomfortable knot in the stomach.

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Jimmy Savile: the sexual predator who was protected by all British institutions