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December 3, 2013 10:23 AM   Subscribe

As the Jimmy Saville abuse scandal surfaced, an old internet rumour resurfaced with it in the form of a transcript (NB very NSFW text) purporting to be an out-take from a 1999 episode of Have I Got News For You in which Saville featured. But who was behind it and why did it endure? (previously)

In 2000, documentary maker Louis Theroux filmed a study of Saville, in which the then-beloved veteran entertainer and charity campaigner came across as an eccentric individual, perhaps adding to the plausibility of the hoax more than a decade before allegations of sexual abuse were posthumously investigated.
posted by mippy (22 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
"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. "
posted by mippy at 10:24 AM on December 3, 2013


To be fair, even back then, a few people were saying So where’s the Real Audio of the soundtrack?

Still buffering the stream, I expect.

- -
So this kind of swear-y, angry thing counts as a "spoof"? I have watched a lot of British television (and even lived in Reading for a bit), and I can't imagine this being thought funny, except perhaps in an "The Aristocrats!" kind of way. So what am I missing?
posted by wenestvedt at 10:59 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not so much that people thought it was "funny", it's that the people who made the hoax transcript were interested in how strange stories and rumors got attached to real news stories.The transcript itself is not meant to be funny, it's meant to seem unreal enough for people to question it.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:05 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Non-Brit here trying to follow along, but scannung all of this only confused me more...

So, years before being uncovered as a pedophile, a pedophile was the victim of a hoax that faked an interview making him look like a pedophile?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:34 AM on December 3, 2013


No, years before being uncovered as a predatory pedophile, he wrote an autobiography boasting about being a predatory pedophile
posted by Dr Ew at 11:45 AM on December 3, 2013


I don't see how many people (unless they're kids or something) believed that wasn't a hoax transcript. Seems very out of character for Paul Merton (or virtually any comedian invited on that show) to be aggressively sweary and attacking with the major insinuations like that on the show.
posted by Bwithh at 11:50 AM on December 3, 2013


I don't know, I can totally see Angus Deayton uncomfortably edging his way out unnoticed offstage.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:54 PM on December 3, 2013


Andrew O'Hagan wrote a very good piece (which I found linked in an excellent deleted FPP by Sonny Jim) for the LRB a year ago about the Savile affair and its meaning for Britain generally and the "light entertainment" industry in particular, where the last comment refers to this "spoof", citing it as evidence that Savile's crimes were notorius even as they were being committed.

The spoof may have cleared up a mystery that's puzzled me since the Savile story broke: why didn't anyone connected to one of his two hundred or so victims ever catch him outside a lonely stage door and leave him in no condition to continue his depredations?
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.
If it's true he'd been a wrestler, I'd say no one accosted him because he was still physically formidable and people were afraid of him.

The bit about the girls' school is particularly telling, by the way, because at one point Savile had apparently assaulted so many inmates of the Duncroft girls' school that desperate girls made a mass break to the local police station, and STILL nothing was done.
posted by jamjam at 1:02 PM on December 3, 2013


jamjam: why didn't anyone connected to one of his two hundred or so victims ever catch him outside a lonely stage door and leave him in no condition to continue his depredations?

I dunno; maybe something to do with his organized crime connections?
posted by cstross at 1:11 PM on December 3, 2013


... it's that the people who made the hoax transcript were interested in how strange stories and rumors got attached to real news stories.

Ah! So it's like…bait, then,to be tracked as it spread. Neat idea, and being couldn't happen to a nicer fellow.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:20 PM on December 3, 2013


@DrEw wow, i mean... he came across as strange and creepy when he did the Louis Theroux interview, but not that.. he admitted to beating people up (30 / 40 years before) i didn't believe he couldn't be prosecuted - but then lovable cute Boris (the mayor of london, and a far-right-winger who is forgiven everything because he 1) has hair that looks like a mop and 2) has perfected a not-actually-funny comedy schtick) commissioned somebody to be beaten up, there's uncontested audio of it, and - nothing's happened! At all! If that was you, you'd go down for years... i despair of UK
posted by maiamaia at 2:03 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was part of a now-closed forum in which Saville was a meme. This was in the early 00s, so he still had a status as a former children's TV personality (he had a show called Jim'll Fix It, where kids would write in asking to be granted wishes, and then get a medal at the end) who had turned into a major charity fundraiser, but still had a kind of weird, hard to define creepiness about him. Unlike other memes which mods would delete for libel reasons (such as mention of alleged rapist John Leslie, or radiator-based theories about Eamonn Holmes), this persisted - people would allude to him being a necrophiliac, who was only closely involved with work in hospitals because he liked to 'get close' to the dead. This was a decade before any abuse allegations surfaced, yet there was something disgustingly plausible about it somehow.

So when the hoax was passed around here and there, it did seem as though it was made up - Merton is a grumpy get but I couldn't imagine him being as unprofessional - there was also something plausible, the air of something that was an open secret to those around at the time but veiled from the public image. The writers got the characters of the participants down pat, once you take out the genital references.

A lot of beloved entertainers of the 70s and 80s have been questioned as part of the wider investigation, Operation Yewtree, but the only surprise surrounding Saville was not that he had carried out such crimes but that they had allowed to remain undiscovered. There was a lot of 'he always did look a bit funny'. My parents watched the Theroux interview half-expecting to hear of some strange sexual peccadilloes candidly slipping out.


maiamaia - Boris actually COMMISSIONED someone to be beaten up? As in, ordered a goon to beat someone up? What's your source for this?
posted by mippy at 2:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


After the Saville scandal broke, I remember watching a clip from a media commentary program from the UK. One of the presenters said something along the lines of 'what's extraordionary about Jimmy Saville is that he hid in plain sight. He got away with being a creepy paedophile by acting... like a creepy paedophile'. It struck me as an entirely apt description.
posted by tim_in_oz at 3:34 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


He hid in Chequers. That's what's extraordinary; he had contacts at the highest levels of government in the UK, I am entirely sure that's what kept him safe.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:25 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Weirdest thing, as a schoolchild we all made Jimmy Saville paedophile jokes. It was settled that he was a child molester and we all laughed when he appeared on TV and made jokes about getting girls to sit on his knee during Jim'll fix it.
posted by fingerbang at 7:50 PM on December 3, 2013


I was thinking yesterday that while this savage asshole was raping kids and working at the BBC, the BBC maintained a list of very tame songs they had banned. Unreal.
posted by nevercalm at 7:53 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, years before being uncovered as a pedophile, a pedophile was the victim of a hoax that faked an interview making him look like a pedophile?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:34 PM on December 3 [+] [!]


No, people who were paying attention knew he was a fiddler years before it all blew up. Here's Jerry Sadowitz from 1987
(NSFW)
posted by Decani at 10:36 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]



maiamaia & mippy : re: BorisJ - here's the recording of the alleged incident in which Boris allegedly discusses violence against a journalist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDJWkS2A9T0

Apparently Boris' office refers to this as " "colourful" tale from the past that bore no relevance to Johnson's current position. The mayor has always dismissed the tape as a joke."
posted by rolandroland at 2:12 AM on December 4, 2013


Having seen HIGNFY filmed live, the sweary and aggressive language 'Paul Merton' uses in that transcript strikes me as fake as hell. As in, no way did it happen. It's just not how he talks, and if that had happened in front of a 300 person studio audience, as well as the production team, it would have leaked in a big way.

HIGNFY is filmed without a break if they can avoid having one. Only once the show is over do they go back and refilm one or two things, nearly always the presenter. They refilm fluffed lines. They also lead with the funny picture that got the most audience laughs, and refilm the intro to that section of the programme to reflect the new order.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:17 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


why didn't anyone connected to one of his two hundred or so victims ever catch him outside a lonely stage door and leave him in no condition to continue his depredations?

Jimmy had friends in high places - New Year at Chequers for sure, plus he was a high ranking mason and also senior Catholic contacts... but he also had the double whammy of friends in low places too. There were almost certainly connections to organised crime from back in his night club days and there was also apparently a burly ex-wrestler and/or doorman 'driver'/minder or two close at hand for close and immediate protection and intimidation.

Years ago I worked for an organisation for Jim was a patron. I never met him in person but several people I worked with had done - no one ever outright said 'weirdo' but that was the impression you got.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:14 AM on December 4, 2013


Would this incident be considered a Saville row?
posted by Tool of the Conspiracy at 4:04 PM on December 4, 2013


There's a hacker in the hacker community.

For over 30 years now, he has enjoyed close attention and attraction to a variety of young men. Not pre-teens or younger - all appear to be in the 14 and up range. This is verifiable and known information.

He used to look a little better than he does now - once relatively buff and energetic, he's aged and looks like an old person looks - but regardless, the situation continues.

T-shirts have been made. Stickers have been made. Talk to most people, they know what I'm talking about.

He exploits the perfect nexus of Geek Social Fallacy, somewhat benign come-on approach (same lines, generally stops at massage, etc.), and that even when people go out of their way to say it right outright, nothing specifically"happens". Hackers don't go to cops. Hackers don't squeal.

He can't have more than 5 years at the most, although 10 isn't out of question. When he's gone, stuff will break wide.

And people will go "why didn't anyone tell? why didn't people talk?"

They did.

So it is with heavy heart I can totally see how Seville can run free for his entire life, gaining just the right friends, position, influence and blithe self-absorbed outlook to ride it to the end.

Tangential, but related: Petty Tyrant, the single best hour in the This American Life series.
posted by jscott at 5:19 AM on December 5, 2013


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