The Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal has occupied the time, energy, thoughts and emotions of thousands over the past month, since ITV1's 'Exposure' documentary was released regarding Savile's decades of abuse. This show has escalated far beyond the scale that anyone saw coming. Numerous institutions around the UK are now under investigation by the police and by independent sources, most notably: the BBC. Last night (22nd Oct. 2012) BBC's Panorama attempted to be candid about Savile and his role and relationships within the BBC, and anchored to the cancelled Newsnight exposé revolved around the allegations against Savile, spiralling outward in ever increasing and disturbing circles. Leading to one, very upsetting phrase, and as yet unsubstantiated claim: "paedophile ring at the BBC."
The Panorama show interviewed various employees and ex-employees of the BBC who were around and aware of Savile in his hey-day. Although it has been reported throughout the media that various members of the BBC knew what was going on, the scale of it, as seen in last night's program, is astonishing. Martin Young, who was a reporter for Nationwide, an old BBC series, said that he once found Savile in bed with a young girl, fully clothed, and it was at that point that his suspicions and fears were confirmed, but that it "never even crossed [his] mind" to report it.
Karin Ward, who had been a patient at Duncroft School for vulnerable girls, was a key component of the Newsnight program which was cancelled last year. Ward was interviewed in mid 2011 while she was suffering with cancer. She said: "I had been pushed so hard to do it" while suffering with cancer "I went through all that stress when I needed to concentrate on getting well... and then they didn't use it". It was her testimony that was the most difficult and disturbing to listen to. She spoke of Savile's requests for oral sex in exchange for a change to be a part of one of his shows. She also spoke about Gary Glitter having sex with a young girl in Savile's dressing room while there were many other people in the room who must have seen.
Dan Davies, who is a biographer of Savile said that during Savile's years working in dancehalls, 'the big joke about Savile was that he'd either end up famous or locked up' and that his motto was 'the younger the better'. Other people to comment during the program, who evidently knew of the problems were Bob Langley, Paul Gambacini and Roger Ordish. But it's Peter Entwhistle that came under some major heat for the program, and he clearly has a lot of questions to answer.
Panorama really didn't clear anything up, or answer any of our burning questions. The most credible (or most readily repeated) reason for none of this ever coming to light earlier, is because it simply wasn't the done thing 'at the time' and that anxieties over child abuse have only really come to the fore over the past ten years. As to why Newsnight was cancelled- no satisfactory answers have been found. It seems the BBC realise what dramatic and damaging mistakes they have made and are simply at a loss as to how to deal with it.
As they face the biggest crisis in its history, one must question whether this will break the BBC. We hope not, Savile has already tampered with the lives of countless children, he should certainly not have the power posthumously, to bring down one of the UK's biggest, most influential and indeed well loved institutions.
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