Jimmy Savile

There's a lot of mystified chatter around these days along the lines of, “How did Jimmy Savile get away with it”. There are some fun theories (David Icke is on form there), but the truth is at once boringly prosaic and shocking.

In the 1960s and 70s, being into teenage girls wasn’t a big deal.

It wasn’t exactly respectable, but DJs weren’t respectable anyway. It wasn’t legal, but neither was drink-driving, and everybody in those days did that.

Being into teenage boys was a bit worse, but that’s because homosexuality was not well-regarded. Stories about choirmasters or scoutmasters or latin masters who were a bit too friendly with their charges were common jokes. Not shocking, “alternative” jokes, but boring, mother-in-law, Benny Hill, variety show jokes.

I think messing about with pre-pubescent girls or boys was another matter, but Hugo Rifkind’s story, from Savile’s autobiography, where he keeps a runaway remand school girl home overnight, was not the sort of thing someone with a reputation for being a bit rough and wild anyway would be shy of admitting.

This is another example of those changes in attitude that are so severe and sudden that the culture just blanks out that things were ever different, leaving odd inexplicable anomalies like Jimmy Savile, the friendly childrens’ entertainer and sex-case. 

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