Tag Archives: Savile

Canada closes a BBC brothel + comedy critic Kate Copstick wastes few tears

Anna Smith ignores the BBC in Canada (photograph by Jean Nault)

For the last month and a half, Britain’s tabloids have been obsessed with the Jimmy Savile paedophile scandal, the subsequent witch hunt and the resignation of the BBC Director General after Newsnight wrongly accused Lord McAlpine of paedophilia.

Meanwhile, the world turns.

Anna Smith in Vancouver tells me that “the BBC scandals have barely caused a ripple here, possibly because there is a particularly infamous massage parlour located near a busy intersection in Vancouver called Broadway Body Care. It advertises in the employment classifieds: Make top money – Become a BBC Girl !!!

Anna tells me that, following a court case last year, the Vancouver BBC currently has a sign on the door with a note saying “closed for renovations”.

Not unlike the original in that respect, then.

Meanwhile, the world turns.

Comedy critic Kate Copstick keeps me updated on her work in Kenya for her Mama Biashara charity. This morning, I received her latest e-diary:

WEDNESDAY

Today is a medical clinic and our ‘clinic’ is a small breezeblock square  that looks like an outside toilet. And is about the size of a double portaloo. And indeed may BE an outside toilet, judging by the smell. A massive queue is forming.  The highlights of the day are …

Susan who has sole care of four grandchildren and has legs which are each the size of Janette Krankie. She has pain everywhere, palpitations, and has to be lifted in and out of our portaloo.

Hannah who is 82 and has care of 12 grandchildren. She makes the average population of an L.S. Lowry painting look obese: bad joints, pain and a persistent cough.

Josephine who presents us with what I suspect is shingles. My suspicions raised, I send her for an HIV test which comes back positive. She is a house girl in the area and hopelessly alone.

John who has a heart that sounds like someone is playing the maracas.

Beatrice who tells us she gets “pain” then “falls down” and “her legs die”.

Mary who says “there is something growing in my eye” and who is absolutely right – a brown fungus is growing over both corneas.

Mary’s baby who is 1 year and 3 months and weighs 6kg – He has rickets and vomits up anything except breast milk.

Felix who is 9 years old and has a rectal prolapse.

Patrick who was attacked by thieves and lost an eye and part of his jaw. The wounds are now infected and  extruding pus.

Then there are coughing mucusy babies, the usual time-wasting imaginary ‘fever’ and a load of de-worming to do and cod liver oil and various vitamins to give out. Bicarbonate of Soda is a wonder drug here. You have no idea how many ‘ulcers’ it cures.

By the end of the workshop, we are working in the dark and we have had to close the door.  We have a list of people to take to various hospitals and clinics tomorrow and people to follow-up on next week.

THURSDAY

OK, so today I did a Lenny Henry. I teared up. Which is appalling. Tearing up is a totally pointless, self-indulgent exercise. Every second a well-fed, secure, healthy person spends dabbing tears from their eyes is a second they COULD and SHOULD have been spending doing something to fix the situation they are so upset about.

Luckily I have few tears, so to business …

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Last night, I had a dream about naughty big powerful people and little children

Once upon a very long long time ago….

I had a dream last night.

It is very rare for me to remember my dreams, but I remember this fantastical story I dreamt last night.

Once upon a long long time ago in a fairy tale land far far away beyond the Misty Mountains, there was a home made of chocolate where little children lived.

But they were not happy little children.

Because the fairy tale land in which the home made of chocolate stood was run by naughty big powerful people. The naughty big powerful people were called politicians and policemen and some of the naughty big powerful people ‘liked’ the little children too much. They ‘liked’ the little children in an illegal way.

But the naughty big powerful people were not subject to the laws because they were naughty big powerful people.

Far away but not too far away not to have heard what was going on, there was a magic place which made pretty pictures which could fly through the air.

This place which made pretty pictures which could fly through the air heard about the bad things which were happening in the home made of chocolate not so far far away and they made up a big long story about what was happening there and named one of the naughty big powerful people.

This naughty big powerful person was very annoyed and he told everyone that the place which made the pretty pictures which could fly through the air had defamed him and he had not done such naughty things.

The naughty big powerful person went to some places called courts where people dressed up in funny costumes and spoke in a funny make-believe language and the naughty big powerful person ‘sued’ the place which made the pretty pictures which could fly through the air.

It cost a lot of gold.

But the place which made the pretty pictures which could fly through the air had a fairy godfather which protected it when it got into trouble. The fairy godfather protected lots of people. They paid him money and, if anything bad happened to them – like being taken to the court where people dressed up in funny costumes and spoke in a funny make-believe language – he would pay for all their costs from his magic purse of gold.

But, one day, the fairy godfather told the place which made the pretty pictures which could fly through the air that the cost of defending them against the court case by the naughty big powerful person in the court where people dressed up in funny costumes and spoke in a funny make-believe language was too too high to carry on. He told the place which made the pretty pictures which could fly through the air that they would have to say sorry to the naughty big powerful person and say they were telling fibs and pay him money.

“But we were not telling fibs,” said the people who ran the place which made the pretty pictures which could fly through the air. “He is a naughty man and he did all the naughty things we said he did in the story we told in our pretty pictures which flew through the air.”

“That does not matter,” said the fairy godfather. “It is costing a lot of gold.”

The people who ran the place which made the pretty pictures which could fly through the air were very upset and argued and argued with the fairy godfather, but he said: “He who holds the strings of the magic purse of gold can tell you what to do.”

And so the place which made the pretty pictures which could fly through the air said sorry to the naughty big powerful person and they said they had been telling fibs and they paid him gold from the fairy godfather’s magic purse.

There is no moral to this story because, just like ‘real’ life, morals are no good to you in isolation: a fairy godfather will not always protect you. The people who hold the strings to magic purses of gold are only interested in their – and other people’s – gold. The courts where people dress up in funny costumes and speak in a funny make-believe language will not help you.

And do you want to know what happened to the children in the home made of chocolate in this fairy tale land far far away beyond the Misty Mountains once upon a long long time ago…?

Well, I woke up at that point.

Not all stories have endings.

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Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter and Roman Polanski. Comparing artists and arses.

(This was also published by the Huffington Post)

Spice World released with scum removed

Roman Polanski?” someone said to me yesterday afternoon. “Well, he’s not as bad as Jimmy Savile, is he?”

That is like a red rag to a bull.

Was Jack The Ripper not as bad as Adolf Hitler because he did not kill as many people? You could even argue Adolf Hitler was a morally better person than the Jack The Ripper because, as far as I am aware, Hitler did not personally kill anyone during the Second World War.

It is a pointless argument.

Jimmy Savile had-it-off with more under-age girls than Roman Polanski and was apparently at-it for 50 years. Roman Polanski was only prosecuted over one girl.

But the truth is you cannot compare evil.

Most things are grey. But some things are black and white and incomparable.

I had a conversation with two other men a couple of days ago and which I started to write a blog about the next day but which I aborted because it was too dangerous…

One man was involved in the comedy business. The other had been involved in the music business. We had got talking about Gary Glitter.

When the Spice Girls’ movie Spice World was made, it included a big musical routine involving Gary Glitter. Very shortly before the film’s release, he was arrested on sex charges. He was cut out of the film because (quite rightly) it was thought to be dodgy given the movie’s target audience.

But now, in many places, several years later, his music is, in effect, banned from being played because the act of playing it – and saying his very name in the introduction – is thought to be in bad taste.

The conversation I had with the other two men revolved around Art v Scum.

Just because someone is scum does not mean they cannot create Art.

Just because they have been rightly arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for an act of evil does not lessen the level of any Art they may have created.

I am sure all sorts of artists over the centuries have committed all sorts of morally and criminally heinous acts. But that does not mean we should not appreciate their art.

You may see where this is going and why I abandoned writing this particular blog a couple of days ago. Just by discussing it I might seem to be lessening my dislike of what the scum did. Which is not the case. But it is a danger.

Just because Gary Glitter is scum does not mean he did not create some very good pop music. Perhaps it was not high art. But it was good pop music. The fact that he was imprisoned for having pornographic images of children in Britain and committing sex crimes in Vietnam does not mean his records should be banned.

There is the fact that, if you buy his records, he will receive royalties. That is a problem, but does not affect the theoretical discussion.

Clearer examples are actors Wilfred Brambell and Leslie Grantham.

Homosexuality was stupidly illegal in the UK until 1967. In 1962, Wilfred Brambell (old man Steptoe in the BBC TV comedy series Steptoe and Son) was arrested in a Shepherd’s Bush toilet for “persistently importuning”, though he got a conditional discharge. Ooh missus. He died in 1985. In 2012, he was accused of abusing two boys aged aged 12-13 backstage at the Jersey Opera House in the 1970s. One of the boys was from the Haut de la Garenne children’s home, which is now surrounded by very seedy claims of child abuse, murder and torture (and which Jimmy Savile visited, though this is strangely under-played in newspaper reports).

Actor Leslie Grantham – who famously played ‘Dirty Den’ in BBC TV’s EastEnders – is a convicted murderer. In 1966, he shot and killed a German taxi driver in Osnabrück. He was convicted of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment and served ten years in jail.

Wilfred Brambell’s presumed sexual sleaziness and Leslie Grantham’s actual imprisonment for killing someone does not mean the BBC should never repeat Steptoe and Son nor old episodes of EastEnders, nor that it would be morally reprehensible to watch the Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night because Wilfred Brambell plays a prominent role in it.

It does not mean that Wilfred Brambell and Leslie Grantham’s undoubtedly high acting skills should not be appreciated.

A chum of mine was recently compiling a history of glam rock for a BBC programme and was told he could not include Gary Glitter. That is a bit like not including the Rolling Stones in a history of 1960s British rock music or not including Jimmy Savile in a history of BBC disc jockeys.

Which brings us to Roman Polanski.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I think he is scum and (figuratively speaking) his balls should be cut off and he should be thrown into a bottomless pit of dung for eternity.

He drugged, raped and buggered a 13-year-old girl.

End of.

The defence “She was not that innocent” is no defence.

In January next year, the British Film Institute starts a two-month “tribute” to Roman Polanski at the National Film Theatre in London.

I have no problem with that. I might even go to some of the movie screenings.

Dance of the Vampires, Rosemary’s Baby and Macbeth are brilliant films. Chinatown and Tess are very good – although I have also had the misfortune to sit through the unspeakably awful Pirates.

As a film-maker, Roman Polanski deserves a tribute. As a criminal on the run from justice, he deserves to be arrested and imprisoned.

Art is often created by people who are scum.

Here is the deleted scene from Spice World:

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Dead paedophile Jimmy Savile, sexism at the BBC and rapes in 31 US states

(This piece was also published by the Huffington Post)

The Sun newspaper’s headline today

Last night, a female friend and I watched (on BBC TV) the special Panorama investigation Jimmy Savile: What the BBC Knew – a programme not just about the Savile scandal but about why, last year, a detailed Newsnight programme exposing Savile’s crimes had been shelved.

Afterwards, my friend asked me: “What do you think?”

“Well,” I replied, “the Jim’ll Fix It! producer said the radio people had never told him any of the stories about Savile but, then, they wouldn’t. Radio and TV are separate people in different  parts of London. Paul Gambaccini said, quite rightly, that people on the 3rd floor of Broadcasting House would not hear gossip happening on the 2nd floor.”

“But,” said my friend, “the editor of Newsnight said there wasn’t anything they had uncovered that the police did not already know – and that wasn’t true.”

“I don’t know why he said that. It’s bizarre,” I agreed. “A lot of the problems are because the BBC is a… Well, you have a situation where the BBC has now commissioned and transmitted a programme exposing something the BBC doesn’t really want to talk about… but it’s the BBC themselves who have made and transmitted the programme they don’t want to be made and transmitted.

“The BBC is not a large thinking, downwardly-controlled entity. Everyone is trying not to control from above. It’s managed day-to-day from below by the producers and the individual bureaucrats. If they think something is dodgy, they refer it up one level… in the case of programmes, to the editor who, if he is uncertain, may refer it up to the executive producer, who… Well, it’s this multi-layered beast with no-one trying to impose or interfere too much on the lower layers because the big thing is editorial independence.

“They said in the programme – quite rightly – that the Director General is in a lose-lose situation. If he did anything, then people will accuse him of controlling things in a Machiavellian way. If he did not do anything, then they’ll say he should have done.”

“It’s not that uncontrolled,” said my  friend, “ because there was a number of times when women were being replaced because they were too old.”

Front page of today’s Daily Mail

“But the people at the very top did not do that,” I said. “That was the hands-on producers or editors or executive producers. The BBC did not sit down and decide as a single corporate entity, as a matter of policy to do it.”

“Well why did they do it?” my  friend asked. “They replaced women because they were too old. It was never men who were replaced.”

“But the BBC as a corporate monolithic thing was not doing that,” I said. “The producers and editors as independent individuals were doing that. The BBC is not some great Machiavellian organisation. It rarely decides anything at a programme level. The individual people who make the individual programmes take the decisions.”

“Isn’t it just an institution that’s mostly male, though?” she asked.

“Well, that’s an entirely different argument,” I said, “though, in this case – shelving the Newsnight programme –  the Big Boss – Helen Boaden – is a woman.”

“Isn’t that how Savile got away with it, though?” my  friend asked me. “A load of young girls were regularly going back to Jimmy Savile’s dressing room and a few guys – it wasn’t just him and Gary Glitter… Some people must have known these young girls were being taken into the dressing room and abused and people were getting away with it because it was Ooh! It’s just guys being guys!”

“But that wasn’t the BBC itself deciding that it was going to be allowed,” I said. “That’s individuals’ failings. The BBC didn’t have meetings at the top or the middle ranks or anywhere and say Oh, we’re going to allow Jimmy Savile to feel-up and rape under-age girls in his dressing room. It’s something that happened without anyone deciding it was going to be allowed to happen. And the people who were not involved but who saw it happen did not report it.

“The people at the sixth floor management level of Television Centre – and they’re the only people you could sort of call ‘The BBC’ – did not know what was happening in the basement dressing rooms of the building. The Director General, the Head of Entertainment and even – the way he tells it – the producer of Jim’ll Fix It!did not know that Savile was abusing people in the dressing room and there was no evidence presented to anyone at the time that he was.

“What I don’t understand is why Paul Gambaccini at Radio 1 who’s now going on as if he knew all about it and how appalling it was at the time, didn’t report it.”

“But,” said my friend, “wasn’t the attitude that Guys will be guys! They’re having a bit of a lark! It’s the Swinging Sixties and Swinging Seventies!

“Well, I said, “that’s not what Gambaccini seems to be saying. He is saying now that he thought it was appalling and disgusting at the time.

The Independent newspaper today

“I mean,” I continued, “some of it happened when David Attenborough was Controller BBC2. He would not have known anything about it. The BBC is this vast organisation. It’s a vast collection of little separated villages of different programmes and offices in different departments on different floors of different buildings. Lots of little cliques.

“One set of programme makers barely knows the vague outline of what other programmes are doing in the same department let alone what happens in dressing rooms with the doors closed. I know AAA BBB. He worked on Jim’ll Fix It! He says he never even met Jimmy Savile because Savile only came in on the day of the recording. He worked on the production team of the show and he never even met Jimmy Savile! The BBC organising some vast corporate conspiracy is something beyond practicalities.

“I mean, tonight’s show was made by Panorama about Newsnight. I suspect the people working on the two shows are mortal enemies and there’s an element of sticking the knife in. The BBC is like The Balkans: lots of little separate entities sometimes sniping at each other. It’s not really fully under control. It’s nothing to do with men v women.”

“I think it is,” said my friend.

“The BBC didn’t think having sex with under-age girls was acceptable,” I said. “They didn’t approve it on the sixth floor. They didn’t know it was happening. They didn’t say This is acceptable and we’re going to allow Jimmy Savile to do it on BBC premises.

“Well,” said my friend, “he was completely arrogant and he was a man in a man’s world on top of the pile.”

“So what was the BBC supposed to do about something they didn’t know was happening?” I asked.

“It’s the attitude of society,” said my  friend. “Guys think they can use women. The BBC is part of what society is. All those quiz shows that are happening! You don’t get any women on them!”

“So what could the BBC have done about Jimmy Savile?” I asked.

“It’s Nudge nudge Wink wink,” my  friend said, “Guys cover up for other guys.”

“But the BBC didn’t decide to cover it up,” I said, “The BBC did not decide it was acceptable. The BBC did not know.”

“It’s men’s attitude that they have a right to sex,” said my friend. “They can buy it if they can’t find a woman to do it with. They can get it where they want.”

There was another sixteen minutes of this (I recorded it). My friend tends to get het up about the inherent sexism in society and how men make all the rules in their favour. I think she exaggerates.

This morning, when I woke up, a Twitter follower drew my attention to a CNN report a couple of months ago.

The report mentioned in passing that, in 31 US states, rapists have the same custody and visitation rights to any resulting children as other fathers.

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The sex abuse stories swirling around dead Jimmy Savile spin out of control

Liberal Democrats rate my blog above normal education

My blog three days ago about the Have I Got News For You Jimmy Savile transcript faked by SOTCAA continues to get a large number of hits. This can only be helped by the fact that, this morning, it is oddly recommended by the Liberal Democrat Voice website as one of its 8 Must-Read Articles for Liberal Democrat Party members and supporters.

It comes in as No 2 in a list of Must-Read Articles, above Free Schools: The Research Lab of State Education, Debunking the Myths Around School Choice and David Cameron’s Inflexible, Thatcherite Party is Being Exploited by Ed Miliband. I will be fascinated to read what is in the Liberal Democrats’ next election manifesto.

I am very grateful for the recommendation, though confused at the political importance or implications of my finely-compiled piece or, indeed, any political significance in Jimmy Savile.

The Daily Mail today seems to disagree.

I am a great admirer of the Daily Mail’s professionalism – something that has brought me a lot of criticism, not all of it constructive…

Should you believe a headline with ?

But, this morning, the Daily Mail is using Jimmy Savile as part of its ongoing BBC-bashing campaign in an astonishingly slapdash and sloppy down-market piece headlined: WAS THERE A SEX RING INSIDE THE BBC? – Jimmy Savile’s colleague ‘procured girls for him’.

It reads like something out of the Sunday Sport.

When I was a student, my main lecturer in Journalism was the Production Editor of the now-closed-amid-shame News of the World. He pointed out to us that, when a question mark was used in a newspaper headline, it often meant that the newspaper itself did not believe the story, but it was just too good a story not to run.

Two scumbags connected by a dodgy caption in the Daily Mail

Today’s Daily Mail article claims an un-named BBC person (who denies it) introduced girls to Jimmy Savile for sex and had sex with them himself. There is also a photo of disgraced Gary Glitter with a caption saying Rocker Gary Glitter has already been implicated in the alleged sex ring. But there is no mention anywhere in the article itself of Gary Glitter.

Now, there may well have been a ‘sex ring’ inside the BBC in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, but I severely doubt it. Rampant randiness abounded and I’m sure still does. But an organised sex ring? Unlikely.

The Daily Mail article starts “The Mail has been told that a BBC employee was allegedly given the task of procuring girls for the presenter and other men to molest…”. But there is no mention of any “other men” in the article. It is journalistic ‘bigging-up’ of a slender story.

The article talks of “a former beauty queen” who claims she had sex with Savile because “I just thought this might make me famous” and, a week later, was raped by his ‘accomplice’. The Mail says this beauty queen is “named only as Sandra” but then publishes a full-length photograph of her. The “named only as Sandra” reference is intended to sound mysterious and protective of a victim’s privacy but is bollocks when they print a clear, identifiable picture of her.

I have no reason to suppose her rape did not happen and take place in a BBC office and it is appalling, but the Daily Mail does not help its/her case by quoting her as saying: “There must have been people around because I could hear radio shows going on”.

She could hear more than one radio show being transmitted from some nearby soundproof studios?? That seems unlikely to me, bordering on the surreal. But it is a detail some hack journalist might add in to make the story more vivid.

In today’s newspaper, a second woman who worked as a “waitress at a drinking club in Marylebone” tells the Mail about Jimmy Savile “trying to have sex” with her. The Mail then says it put the “rape allegation” to Savile’s alleged accomplice.

This “rape allegation” can only refer to the beauty queen rape but, by putting the reference immediately after the waitress’ story, the Mail article by implication subtly heightens her groping/sexual assault (which is bad enough) into a full rape.

The ‘accomplice’ told the Mail “he could not remember a drinking club in Marylebone” and the Mail does not name it. No reason why it could not if it existed. This is sloppy reporting.

The Mail says the BBC is now conducting “a forensic examination of documents relating to BBC programmes going back for more than 40 years”. I really doubt that what the Mail says is true.

We could have a long debate about the word’s Latin origin, but ‘forensic’ in everyday speech means “the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime”. I really doubt that the BBC is employing forensic scientific techniques to examine the physical composition of the documents themselves.

It is sloppy journalism and sloppy witch-hunting.

It simply muddies the clear waters around the vileness of Jimmy Savile. The clue was in the name – Jimmy sa vile.

Meanwhile, the So It Goes blog’s Canadian correspondent Anna Smith tells me: “I don’t know if anyone in Vancouver has heard of Jimmy Saville.”

Maybe they have other things on their minds.

She tells me her neighbours include “a mysterious sailor from Manchester who lost his ability to speak… a pair of evangelist Vikings who distilled moonshine from mango peelings… an Australian plumber who has spent time in jail in Afghanistan… and there is the story of a luxury yacht stolen by a renegade tuna fisherman and his wife… that story also involves a midget and his mother….”

Life goes on. The world spins, not yet totally out of control.

Just a little odd.

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Jimmy Savile: The birth of a paedophile hoax on “Have I Got News For You”

Jimmy Savile – the truth?

Late tonight, ITV1 are broadcasting their much-publicised Exposure programme on The Other Side of Jimmy Savile. They are mad. They should schedule it in peak time.

A couple of days ago in this blog, I posted an alleged transcript of the un-broadcast sections of a BBC TV Have I Got News For You episode in which Jimmy Savile appeared. At the bottom of the transcript, I revealed that it was a 1999 hoax.

The reason the hoax has been believed by many over the twelve years since it first appeared is partly because it was built on (as it has turned out) well-founded rumours.

But also because it was so well-written.

So who wrote it and why?

Comedian Richard Herring, who knows most things, told me it was some people calling themselves SOTCAA and, indeed, it was. Two of them.

Around 2005, when they were writing on the Cookd and Bombd forum, they were calling themselves ‘Alan Strang’ and ‘Emergency Lalla Ward Ten’.

Now I’m told I should call them Joseph Champniss and Mike Scott.

“At the time this all took place,” Joseph Champniss told me yesterday, “SOTCAA was hosted by NotBBC.

“Sometime in 1999, we started pondering on how affected stories get attached to ‘classic’ shows and films over the years which go down well in pub conversations but also blur any kind of factual coverage – stuff like the rushes of The Wicker Man being buried under the M4 motorway and so on.

“On the other hand, some of the bits we’d gathered for Edit News etc, seemed a tad on the unbelievable side – such as Paul McCartney getting his nob out in Magical Mystery Tour. So we decided it would be fun to stick some obviously fake stuff on the site, just to see whether or not people would actually question it. Part of the site’s remit was to get comedy fans questioning the media, refusing to accept everything at face value.

“Faking some Have I Got News For You out-takes was originally going to be part of that initial plan. We probably decided on it after watching the Unbroadcastable Have I Got News video, which itself features rushes material… but mainly because we enjoy the idea of rushes per se.

“The original idea was to stick the page on the site in Hidden Archive and see if anyone noticed/cared. Emergency Lalla Ward went off and wrote the actual page – based on a tape of the broadcast itself. If you watch the show in tandem with the fakery you’ll note that he’s specifically ‘filled in’ stuff where there was an obvious edit-point. However, this was really only ever a first draft. Something to build on and re-write later in a less obvious/explosive fashion.

“What with everything else we were hurriedly completing for the site at the time, the story gets a bit blurred from this point on. We definitely sent it down to Rob the webmaster along with all the other finished pages so that he could turn it into a website. At this point, SOTCAA was just a bunch of Word documents with pictures attached. Rob then sent the results back to us on a disc so we could see how the thing looked, design-wise. The Have I Got News For You page stood out like a sore thumb. Far too obvious a fake, we thought.

“I remember us getting together with Rob at the Hen & Chickens, Islington, to ponder on what – if anything – to do with it. Maybe the rewrite as planned, or something similar. Until we decided on what to do, Rob commented out the link on the Hidden Archive index page so that it was only visible to people viewing the source code. This brings us up to March 2000, when the site first went live.

“At some point during all of this, one of us came up with the alternate idea of leaking the unedited piece to Matthew Wright (then writing a column for the Daily Mirror) to see if he’d fall for it. April 1st was coming up, so it seemed like as good a time as any for a hoax.

“The idea was to contact Wright anonymously, point him towards the page, mention that it had been ‘hidden’ and then run away laughing, hoping that he’d fall for it and include some sort of reference to it on his gossip page. If successful, we would have then replaced the page with a great big ‘April Fool’ sign, and published the transcript in full with suitable amendments referencing this.

“But that idea came and went, as did April Fools Day, and we just forgot all about it – until June when an anonymous forum dweller discovered the link.”

Co-hoaxer Mike Scott says: “I was annoyed when the script leaked because it was a rough draft in dire need of roughening up. I thought it’d never fool anyone unless it was toned down a bit. I heard that Paul Merton was infuriated by it, which disappointed me at the time.”

“Amusingly,” says Joseph Champniss, “the publication resulted in something similar to what we’d planned, albeit via a more scenic route. It certainly wasn’t a planned forum-leak. Had we realised beforehand what was going to happen, we would have removed the credit from the base of the page! We probably should have put a stop to it sooner, but all three of us were fascinated – and not a little excited – about how far it could conceivably go.

“We found out for sure a bit later when solicitors, apparently acting on behalf of Sir James Savile OBE, managed to close down the site pending an enquiry re libel, defamation of character etc etc. As webmaster, Rob was required to write a legally-binding letter in hardcopy pointing out that the script in question had never actually been ‘officially’ published on the site (and that we had no plans to publish it in the future) before the ban could be lifted.”

One reason why I thought the fake transcript was so convincing was because, I assumed, the people who wrote it were TV insiders. But I was wrong. Appearances can be deceptive.

“We were just very keen comedy fans,” Joseph Champniss told me yesterday, “with a particular fondness for out-takes and the underside of what gets broadcast and what doesn’t. I’m an illustrator/designer – I did a few bits for Lee and Herring‘s TV shows, such as designing the puppet crows on This Morning With Richard Not Judy. That’s the extent of my TV production background! We also did the sleeve notes on the recent Fist of Fun DVD releases.”

“The fake transcript is very impressive,” I told him.

“Well,” he replied, “a quick quote (from memory) is that Victor Lewis-Smith told us: If it was you (and I never believe anything hoaxers say) then you should be doing more of it! It was all over Fleet Street. They were onto Merton. They were onto me. A friend cornered Chris Morris at a Fall music gig later that year and asked him what he thought of it. Funniest thing I’ve read all year, is the quote we still use occasionally!”

In July 2000 Lucy Rouse, editor of the TV trade magazine Broadcast, wrote a piece in the Guardian, saying:

You may have recently come across an email, which has been doing the rounds for the last week or so. It purports to be a transcript of out-takes from one of last year’s episodes of BBC2’s Have I Got News for You, featuring Sir Jimmy Saville.

With it goes just about every lesson you ever needed to learn about the perils of the electronic revolution: anything goes if it’s in electronic form but you really shouldn’t treat every email you read as gospel.

TV producers could never be accused of telling the truth, relying, as they do, on a whole series of out-takes before they hit on a version of events they’re happy to broadcast. And this seems to have been the case with this particular episode of Have I Got News.

The supposed out-takes are said to have come from sources close to the producers and were being widely circulated over the internet at the end of last week.

Paul Merton is always a man to push the televisual boundaries of libel laws as far as they will stretch but the transcript went a lot further than anything you would have seen on the show. The trouble is – according to sources – a huge chunk of the middle section of the email is fabricated.

In one particularly terse exchange appearing in the “transcript”, for example, Merton supposedly attacks Saville about his personal hygiene. In another, the comedian seemingly loses the plot completely and launches into an incoherent rant before being asked by a rattled Angus Deayton if he wants to stop the recording.

It may have been a piece of fiction, but it made an afternoon wading through 112 messages in Outlook a lot more amusing than it might otherwise have been.

“What’s it like?” I asked Joseph Champniss yesterday: “Your comic insinuations being proved to have been right thirteen years later?”

“Well, they weren’t ‘our’ insinuations in the first place,” he replied. “Those stories did the rounds for years – the Louis Theroux show covered it far more publically! So there’s no sense of ‘we told you so’ here. We heard other stories off the back of the transcript a bit later. One quote – from someone whose name I can’t even begin to recall – went Good effort, my dears, but Jimmy liked boys not girls! Some of the recent press stories suggest that this may be true also. Maybe I’m just bitter because Jimmy Savile never replied to my letter to Jim’ll Fix It for me to meet Kenny Everett back in 1981…!

“As for the ability to con readers after all these years… It’s odd… It’s doubtful this particular spoof could have been created – and spread so far – at any subsequent point in the internet’s history. It was in 1999 – pre-YouTube. These days, the first question would be So where’s the footage then? To be fair, even back then, a few people were saying So where’s the Real Audio of the soundtrack? But it was perfectly plausible back in the days of dial-up that a text transcript would be the most convenient medium for disclosing such information. I suspect the main reason it’s lingered so long on the net is that the links usually take people back to that little archived text-file page on Zetnet… A more innocent age.”

“Years ago,” says Mike Scott. “in one of our sillier moods, we had the idea of sending out a press release saying that Linehan and Mathews were working on a fourth series of Father Ted, sans Dermot Morgan (who died in 1998), to be called Father Dead. We wrote a fake script page and everything. Nowadays this would have been identified as a hoax almost immediately but, back in 1999, we felt there was a small air-pocket of reality in which this was ‘just about’ plausible. It would depend on where you heard the news.”

“By the way,” Joseph Champniss told me yesterday, “I’ve been reading a few more recent discussion threads which insist that we erroneously claimed that Jimmy Savile was a guest on Paul Merton’s team rather than Ian Hislop’s and that this proved that it was a hoax. The intro to the Zetnet page certainly claims that. But that intro was added by whoever uploaded it there. I think our original page just said Some out-takes from a recent episode. The fact that we spelt Savile’s surname incorrectly (as Saville) was never commented on, mind you!”

Fakery is an interesting topic and widespread, though faking something does not necessarily mean it is untrue. For example, you may have assumed from the above that yesterday I talked to Joseph Champniss and Mike Scott.

I did not.

I did exchange e-mails with Joseph Champniss two days ago – I claimed it was ‘yesterday’ to make it seem more vivid. The quotes are true.

But most of what you read above is not from my e-mails with Joseph Champniss. It was cobbled-together (with his knowledge), including the quotes from Mike Scott, from four separate pre-existing posts on other sites on the internet.

What you see and read is not necessarily reality, as the life of Jimmy Savile perhaps proves.

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Filed under Hoaxes, Humor, Humour, Internet, Television

Jimmy Savile: the infamous “Have I Got News For You” transcript from 1999

This is allegedly a transcript of an un-broadcast section of an old Have I Got News For You TV programme recorded when Angus Deayton was presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile was a guest on the show. Regular team captains were comedian Paul Merton and Private Eye editor Ian Hislop.

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Out-take 3:09’36

During the headline round:

DEAYTON: You used to be a wrestler didn’t you?

SAVILLE: I still am.

DEAYTON: Are you?

SAVILLE: I’m feared in every girls’ school in the country.

(Audience laugh)

DEAYTON: Yeah, I’ve heard about that.

SAVILLE: What have you heard?

DEAYTON: I’ve…

MERTON: Something about a cunt with a rancid, pus-filled cock.

(Huge audience laugh; Awkward pause)

SAVILLE: I advise you to wash your mouth out, my friend…

MERTON: That’s what she had to do! (Audience laughs)

HISLOP: Weren’t you leaving money in phone boxes or something?

(Saville glares at him) Or have I got completely the wrong end of the…

SAVILLE: (To Deayton, heavily) The question you asked was about wrestling.

DEAYTON: Yes. And then you mentioned girls’ schools. I don’t know whe…

SAVILLE: Well I understood this was a comedy programme. I realise now how wrong I was. (Audience laugh)

DEAYTON: So were you a professional wrestler?

SAVILLE: Yes I was.

DEAYTON: (To audience) Glad we got that cleared up.(Pulls face; audience giggles)

HISLOP: Feared by every girls’ school in the country…

SAVILLE: That’s right.

MERTON: Due to having a rancid, pus-filled cock.(Huge audience laugh)

DEAYTON: Erm…

HISLOP: You’re on top form tonight, Paul…

SAVILLE: (Strangely) I’m…this is not what I…

FLOOR MANAGER: (OOV) OK, do you…(inaudible section)…shall we, for pick-ups…

MERTON: I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what came over me.

SAVILLE: A pus-filled cock, I imagine. (Shocked audience laugh)

MERTON: Oh, it’s nice to see you joining in. We’d been waiting for you, you sad senile old shitter. (Audience appears to do double-take)

DEAYTON: I think we…d-d-you you want to apologise to our guest, Paul?

MERTON: Sorry, I do apologise. Sir senile old shitter, is what I meant to say.

(Audience laugh; pause) Sir senile old shitter…who fucks minors.

(Audience unrest)

HISLOP: Sorry, I’m just looking at our lawyer again. (Waves) Hello!

(Audience laughs)

DEAYTON: Shall we get back on course with this, or sha…

SAVILLE: I do fuck miners, that’s quite correct. I have always done so. They can do the most wonderful things with cigars. The coal…

MERTON: What, they stick them up your senile, pus-filled arse?

(Audience laughs)

FLOOR MANAGER: (OOV): Come on…I’m getting an ear-bashing here. It’s…

MERTON: Oh they want to continue. Sorry, I’ll contain myself. Carry on…

DEAYTON: Right (Pause) You used to be a professional wrestler didn’t you?

(Huge audience laugh)

SAVILLE: (Calmly) I did.

DEAYTON: You didn’t have a nickname or anything?

SAVILLE: Yes – ‘Loser’. (Audience laughs)

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Out-take 4: 21’20

Following a discussion about caravans:

DEAYTON: Last month, Roger Moore sold his luxury caravan in Malta. Asked by the…

MERTON: I visited your caravan the other week, Jimmy.

SAVILLE: Did you really?

MERTON: Oh yes. Interesting what you can find, if you have a bit of a poke.

(Audience laugh)

HISLOP: He just told you, it was twelve years ago…

SAVILLE: No, I lived in it for twelve years.

MERTON: And fucked twelve year olds. (Audience laugh)

DEAYTON: Here we go again…I’ll be backstage if anyone wants me.

MERTON: (Indicating Saville) That’s what you said to the kids on your show, wasn’t it?

(Audience laugh)

SAVILLE: No, they never did want me.

HISLOP: Not even Sarah Cornley?

SAVILLE: She was an exception.

DEAYTON: Who’s Sarah Cornley?

SAVILLE: Sarah Cornley is…

HISLOP: About fifteen grand in damages, wasn’t she?

(Uncertain audience laugh)

SAVILLE: That’s right.

HISLOP: So if I was going to mention that you threatened to break her arm if she said anything…

SAVILLE: You’d be very wrong. (Pause) I said I’d break both her arms.

(Audience unease)

MERTON: Fucking hell. I mean, you’re just sitting there, all shell suit and cigar wearing those fucking…I don’t know what they are.

SAVILLE: Chrome-plated SC-700 sun-visors, these are. Sent to me by…

MERTON: We don’t give a shit. Ladies and gentlemen, Sir James Saville OBE. Jim has fixed it for me to have my arms broken. Meet this depressing old fucked up cunt of a fucker on television who’s riddled with cancer and fucking pubic lice.

HISLOP: (To lawyer again) Hello! (Audience laughs)

MERTON: Christ, I mean ha ha, big fucking joke – the fucking lawyers are involved, tee hee. It doesn’t change anything.

DEAYTON:  (Visibly out of character) Do you wanna stop, or…?

MERTON: No I don’t fucking want to stop. It’s all shit! You’ll expect a comedy walkout in a minute, won’t you? I mean, big bloody joke – I’m going to quote Shakespeare in a minute, how fucking out of character. And Ian knows about football – oh my fucking sides.

SAVILLE: You’ve never fucked anyone in your life, boy.

MERTON: Oh fuck off…

FLOOR MANAGER: (OOV) …About five minutes, just to…(Phil Davey enters)

PHIL DAVEY: OK, well top that as they say. You’re looking troubled by that, aren’t you mate? I tell you, I came back from Amsterdam recently…

RECORDING PLACED ON STAND-BY; CUTS BACK TO CLOSE-UP OF DEAYTON

AWAITING HIS CUE

DEAYTON: OK. Second time lucky. (Pause) Last month, Roger Moore sold  his luxury caravan in Malta. Asked by the New York Times about his relaxed acting style…

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After I posted this blog, always well-informed comedian Richard Herring told me he believed the above was written several years ago by SOTCAA, who describe themselves as “a sort of loose rebel collective of BBC sketch writers”. And, indeed, the letter below (supplied by SOTCAA) confirms this was an excellent 1999 hoax. The full background on how and why the spoof transcript was written is explained in my blog HERE.

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