Ask anyone about Jimmy Savile at the moment and they’ll likely tell you there was “always something about him”. Whether they really did believe that then or are using hindsight to think it now the fact is, these recent allegations don’t seem to have surprised anyone. Least of all his friends who surrounded him at the time and hid the fact that he seems to have been regularly sexually abusing young girls and this was seen as “normal” for him.
The most surprising person who spent decades hiding Savile’s abuse is Esther Rantzen, the founder of ChildLine. At 72 years of age Esther Rantzen is now having to face up to the fact that she hid abuse. She knew about it, she could have spoken up, prevented further abuse and saw justice for the young girls who had already been abused. I know we’re looking at different days but it doesn’t excuse abuse. Was Savile really so powerful within the BBC that people feared for their jobs if they spoke out against him? Looks like that is the case.
I was never particularly fond of Jimmy Savile. If I’m honest I’ll say I’m not surprised about these allegations or that he’d been questioned in the past. I feel bad for the children who appeared on his shows and liked him and all those for whom he was a hero. He made a huge amount of money for charity, but he was a child abuser.
I was, and still am, an admirer of Esther Rantzen but I can’t help feel that the sheen has been taken off her for knowing about the abuse and for hiding it, or covering it up. She is clearly devastated that she did this – but only because the allegations have come to light. Having said that, it might be of some relief to her that they have come out, carrying that knowledge for as long as she has is a difficult thing to do, particularly given that she founded ChildLine, and part of this service is to help children who are being abused. Again, that’s part of the reason why I don’t think I’ll look at her the same way again.
What further worries me about all of this is that there seems to be no one coming forward and saying they spent time with Savile and he was a nice bloke. I’m sure there are people out there but they don’t appear to be willing to step up and say this. Paul Gambacinni tried but basically excused it all by saying it was different time, attitudes towards sex were different. They were, it doesn’t mean that sexual abuse towards children was to be tolerated and it is abhorrent that it was. It happened and it was covered up by people who should have known better. That cannot be excused, ever.