The BBC’s Panorama was just on, and Twitter lit up like a plane with a wing falling off. It was about Jimmy Savile and how the Beeb looked the other way for a few decades.

I haven’t seen the episode, but I saw a lot of tweets about it, and then the hashtag, which led to some very pungent comments. I gather the gist of it is, the Beeb couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) do anything about it, because the sources were

just the women.



  1. johngibson says

    Sorry, but I don’t think that is quite right. The point is not that these were women, but that they were vulnerable girls in institutions. The main witness on the programme had been in an institution for intelligent but emotionally disturbed girls and she did not speak out because she would not have been believed. One of the others who spoke on the programme was a man who as a young boy had been abused by Saville, and his reasons for not saying anything at the time were the same – he would not have been believed. As there have been cases where people did say something and were then punished for lying, their reluctance to say anything is understandable. It would appear that Saville deliberately targeted vulnarable children precisely because he knew that if they did say anything, he would have been believed and they wouldn’t.

    There are serious questions that need to be asked about this scandal, and we should demand serious answers, starting today when the Director-General of the BBC, George Entwistle appears at the House of Commons to give evidence.

  2. Mark Mitchell says

    @john. That’s precisely right. All — Please watch the programme, if you can, rather than simply ‘gathering the gist’ from text messages. It emphatically does NOT boil down to ‘just the women’.

    Also ask yourself: what other media organisation would produce a self-damning documentary about its failure to produce a self-damning documentary? And it’s not without precedent (John Ware’s piece on Hutton back in ’04.)

  3. No Light says

    There was a lot of. the usual hierarchy of “Man might be made to look foolish or overreacting” over “Child will get hurt”.

    Man, after man, after man, after man when asked “Why didn’t you say something?” replied along the lines of “He was my senior, what if I was mistaken?”

    And John – the reason that the Newsnight boss gave, despite a strong witness statement on video, and corroboration from three former Duncroft pupils, was that the police hadn’t confirmed the existence of a prior investigation. In other words, the source was #justthewomen.

  4. No Light says

    Mark – I did watch it. The BBC are doing damage control, that’s all.

    Sorry, but there are all too common tropessurrounding sexual assault of girls and women, dogwhistles that sound piercingly painful to women, that men can’t even hear

    This was common knowledge for years, I knew about it all a decade ago, and trust. me- we heard over and over that nothing could be done because “It’s their [the victims] word against his”.

    This goes right to the core of the Beeb. There must be some very twitchy men around at the moment,

  5. No Light says

    Shit, posted too soon. The NHS has a lot to answer for too. It doesn’t matter how much charity work anyone does, you don’t give them unrestricted access to patients, and you certainly don’t give them keys to a fucking secure unit.

  6. Amy Clare says

    I just watched the Panorama programme. I got the impression that the Newsnight ed was embarrassed about a potential clash between the planned abuse documentary and a lavish extravaganza celebrating Jimmy Savile, which was a big part of the BBC’s upcoming Christmas schedule at the time. ‘Just the women’ seems to be a bit of an excuse really, although it is a terrible thing to say.

    The canning of the abuse documentary seems like primarily selfishness on the part of the BBC, who benefited hugely from Jimmy Savile when he was alive (in terms of ratings, etc) and who could be sure that their posthumous celebration of him would be well received and watched by a LOT of people. They chose to perpetuate the myth of the man as a hero, rather than expose the truth, so they could publicly pat themselves on the back for discovering and developing such an amazing talent! Pay your license fee*, viewers – it’s totally worth it!

    Imho it is the same attitude that led to the abuse being ignored when it was happening – the BBC just had too much to lose by criticising Savile, and everything to gain by protecting him, especially once he was presenting Jim’ll Fix It. That programme was a staple of Saturday night prime time viewing (I grew up watching it in the 80s) and it must have clocked up tens of millions in ratings every week.

    The BBC built Savile up to be the much-loved household name that he was because it benefited them as an institution to do so. All the staff must have been aware of that. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that they shelved that particular documentary – it’s only now that the allegations are out that they are engaging in damage limitation as No Light says.

    It’s not just the BBC of course – ITV will have their own skeletons in the closet, and you can bet that there are a team of BBC-funded researchers on that right now.

    *£145/year and rising.

  7. Maureen Brian says

    Not so, johngibson!

    The “just the women” phrase is the words of Peter Rippon, an editor on Newsnight, when after the event he was pressed on why without fully examining what the journalists had already discovered he had killed the story. The use of the phrase was raised with the Director General by Therese Coffey MP this morning.

    As has just been admitted by George Entwhistle at the Select Committee it is – to most of us – unacceptable to drop a story, to forbid the journalists to proceed, because all the information so far collected has come from women! Did anyone mention the Taliban?

    Poor GE is in enough trouble without being blamed for someone else’s unfortunate phrase and Flintstone-era thinking.

    Far more interesting in the long run – I’m watching the Select Committee as I do this – is the exposure of how an hierarchical operation, even one largely staffed by nice blokes, is completely unable to cope with the sort of power which is not contained by neat management structures or even a culture of public service.

    As one of the MPs has just suggested, everyone did everything in good faith and by the book yet the result is a disaster.

    It might even suggest that the whole of society needs re-engineering!

  8. johngibson says

    Yes, Maureen Brian, Peter Ripon did use that phrase, but whether that is the reason for dropping the investigation, or whether it was due to pressure from above is something which one would hope that the enquiry will be able to throw light on.
    Unfortunately, Britain has a track record of holding enquiries which seem more designed to soothe the feelings of those in power, rather than make serious criticisms. We will be told that although errors were made, lessons have been learned, although all too often the lessons are not learned. There is, in today’s Guardian, and which also appears at “Commentisfree” an article by former BBC manager Mark Damazer which shows a quite remakably complacent attitude. The sub-heading – “The BBC loves to give itself a good kicking. The Newsnight editor and his superiors don’t deserve it” gives a good idea of the flavour of the piece. If that represents current BBC management attitudes, then I have no confidence that any lessons will be learned.

  9. Maureen Brian says

    The complacency is no surprise to any woman over the age of 12 and, yes, I’ve read the Mark Damazer article.

    I’m also well aware of the pattern of multiple inquiries none of which ever quite makes it to the truth. Against that I would argue that we are one of the few countries which even has inquiries so that there is at least a chance that the truth will escape – as it finally has about Hillsborough after 23 years.

    (I’m supporting Ed Miliband’s call for a single inquiry taking in every aspect of Savile’s behaviour so that the same lessons are learnt by all of us and no special circumstances / culture of the times excuses get through. What are you doing?)

    And, wonder of wonders, I knew all that before I was chair of a political think-tank in the UK. Now, would you like to go back and re-write Comment 10 as though you were not addressing the village idiot?

  10. No Light says

    Ugh tagfail, sorry.

    Maureen –

    The complacency is no surprise to any woman over the age of 12

    Yep. I’m both surprised at, and envious of, those who haven’t had to live on permanent alert for decades, simply because of their sex.

    I think I’ve been in more-or-less permanent “fight or flight” mode since I was nine years old (thanks early puberty!), before I even knew what was even causing the queasy, tumbling fear.

    I literally cannot imagine having the freedom to travel from one place te the other without wondering when the next microaggression is coming. I can’t quite grasp what it must be like to be able to report a crime against you, and to not even think that you might not be believed at best, roundly mocked or accused of causing it, at worst.

    Hell, I’d can’t understand being able to even feel that getting help/making a report is an option.

    To have such privilege that none of these thoughts would even cross your mind, that you wouldn’t even think twice about reporting victimisation… What must that be like?

  11. xmaseveeve says

    No. Not all good faith. And I love the BBC. There is a paedophile ring inside the BBC, and, I believe, also in the government. PM John Major’s lover, Edwina Currey, gave Savile the Broadmoor taskforce. He visited his ‘friends’ – including child murderers, and The Yorkshire Ripper. He ‘forgave’ them! (And yes, Ian Brady was in Broadmoor at the time.)

    ‘Filths savour but themselves’ right enough. It gets better. Catholic priests, and the Pope, loved him – saw him as another Mother Theresa. Allegedly, he was also involved with the IRA, and he threatened potential whistleblowers with kneecapping. Do you know he was having sex (allegedly) with dead bodies as well?(Threesomes, probably.)

    Imagine you were a small girl in a wheelchair, and the Crypt-Keeper swooped down and stuck his tongue right in your mouth? That brave woman makes me proud to be Scottish, a rare thing at the moment, what with the SNP.

    This is one huge, unholy cover-up. BBC News today got rid of a guy who was saying that the segment was pulled to protect senior BBC executives and a former Tory Party Chairman (who, I think he said, was twice arrested for abusing young boys – police and the press hushed it up). Suddenly, the interview was over, with obvious screaming from the presenter’s earpiece. I can’t say what other position this ‘big’ guy holds right now, if it’s who I’m thinking of – as it would amount to constructive identification!
    but it will blow your socks off!

    Allegedly, the CPS dropped the prosecution of Savile, because police failed to tell the 4 victims about available victim support, and possible courtroom video link. No, the whole thing stinks. ‘Just’ the women. ‘Just’ the children.

    Disgusting, evil ghoul. He wrote about it in his autobiography, boasted about it in several interviews – still nothing was done! Victims who came forward were either punished, or were intimidated and dismissed by the police.

    A BBC star (actor) was arrested last night for raping young boys. No mention on the BBC. 9 well-known BBC names are under investigation now. It’s all going to blow and they’ll have to adopt Milliband’s single, external inquiry, I think. I’ve one or two ideas, but can’t say. (One just resigned…)Sorry, going to sleep…zzz.

    Why did… Chris Patten… attack the Culture Secretary for commenting on this? She was only doing her job. I hope she’s really brave. As my mum used to say, it’ll all come out in the wash. This is where the bastards have seriously misjudged. Cultural relativism won’t wash. Now we have women in the old-boy sanctum.

    The BBC was full of child-pimps and career-minded blind eye-turners. The BBC fixed it for Jim.

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