From working as an editor in the UK, to taking charge of a Hong Kong magazine, industry journalist Tony Murray has formed innumerable opinions. Interested to hear a few we invited him to share his thoughts via a regular guest blog. Use the comments form below if you have any feedback or written bile to spit as a result, and please remember; if you don’t like it, he doesn’t work for us…
Like many of my generation, I wrote to Jimmy Savile. In my case, I asked him if he could sort it for me to meet a Zygon, a Doctor Who baddie that lived below Loch Ness. He never wrote back. Maybe I shouldn’t have included a picture. Of me. Not the Zygon.
Rumours about Jimmy Savile were apparently in circulation even way back then and long before the peroxide popster was well past fixing. The most prurient of these concerned backhanders paid to morgue attendants for a little alone time with the recently departed. Of course, the truth concerning these “expiry dates” has never been established.
Then again, neither has any of the current crop of allegations.
Anyone who has seen the harrowing recollections in the Panorama programme (Jimmy Savile: What the BBC Knew) would find it hard to doubt the sincerity of the participants. None of them, however, was corroborated. Even if they had been, they would not have been aired had Savile not made his final travel. Savile’s right to sue, like his pensionorial right to Winter Fuel Payments, died with him.
The sheer volume of posthumously-emerged accusers obviously suggests the likelihood of Savile’s paedophile proclivities. The fact that many of them seem to be currently working in chip shops in the Roundhay Park area etc., though, suggests a certain payday sensibility. The way in which the allegations have been universally accepted as gospel, however, is perhaps a little disturbing.
The lack of any dissenting voices demonstrates the muscular orthodoxy that characterises the current state of UK media. While rightly desperate to fend off state control in the wake of the phone tapping scandal, there has been no such willingness by any commentator to posit alternative views on potentially sensitive subjects.
This unanimity of position seems to rely, depending on the issue, more on a fear of inciting the belligerence of particularly vocal single issue pressure groups or, of course, the Daily Mail. The latter case is perhaps the most bizarre, given that the Mail itself is a supposed manifestation of the free press. In truth, it acts more like a rabid sheep dog, savagely turning on any member of the media flock that fails to follow its line. On anything.
The most virulent manifestation of the former has been the Hillsborough Action Group. The publication of the recent report was, publicly at least, greeted as the Absolute Truth. This was despite the fact that, in private, a number of broadcast and print journalists believed the true truth lay somewhere between this latest report, which totally exonerated fans, and earlier investigations that equally exonerated the emergency services. Any suggestion, however, that every Liverpool footie fan was not a jolly gap-toothed chap with a heart of gold would have been howled down.
It seems every media owner was in obvious fear of inciting this opprobrium and, of course, the inevitable Sun-style circulation-collapse throughout Merseyside that would ensue. It is to Liverpool’s credit that, I suspect, it is the only city in the UK that could create such a phenomenon, but such muscular orthodoxy rarely guarantees the veracity of anything. All of which brings us back to Mr Savile.
With Savile no longer in the saddle, the search for warmer scalps is well under way. Gary Glitter has been in and out of custody, while 69-year-old Freddie Starr has been pre-emptively defending himself, while sitting on a sofa next to his 30-year-old fiancée.
Inevitably, with the Savile-saga proving so lucrative, both in terms of reader-acquisition and, ultimately, “my own story” pay-offs, the reputations of many other dead celebs are sure to be exhumed. The ever-reliable internet has already suggested John Peel. This, though, seems largely on the grounds of his obvious similarities to Savile – these being that he was a DJ, started his career in the sixties and, most importantly, is dead.
For those interested in such things, I am reliably informed that the current list of runners and riders includes Hughie Green (10-1), Leslie Crowther (20-1), Jimmy Edwards (40-1), Arthur Negus (100-1) and Fred(A) the Blue Peter tortoise (1000-1). Aye, madness will ensue when the public’s appetite for such things is aroused.
In these bizarre times, it is perhaps ironic that the most apt of words come from the late Ronnie James Dio, one-time lead singer of Black Sabbath and not a paedo (probably). In the opening number to his second album with the band, Dio perhaps far-sightedly, warns us: “When you listen to fools, the mob rules.” Quite.
Tony Murray never did get to meet a Zygon. In a fit of pique he became a journalist and moved to Hong Kong.