Saturday, 29 October 2011

Now then, now then, what do we have no longer here? Jimmy Savile RIP

I have a confession to make, as a kid I wrote in Jimmy Savile but I never did get to meet my footballing hero Kenny Dalglish on his TV show. When I did finally get to stand beside Kenny the first time we were at Euston station both checking the time of trains, not once but twice the undergraduate me was unable to turn to the man beside and say a word. Fortunately when his son Paul played for Livingston and the man turned up to pull the half time drawer winning tickets, I was past my rabbit syndrome for the famous and was able to speak to him.

But the man that I was hoping that letter would be the start of it, who made many kids dreams come true is no longer with us. Just after midday today police were called to home in Leedswhere the 84 old DJ and TV presenter lived alone. Apparently he was found dead.

Running the 1982 London Marathon
In the Second World War he was conscripted to work down the pit at South Kirkby Colliery, West Yorkshire. But starting using two record players and a microphone around the music hall it what he claimed was the first disc jockey. He was a semi-professional cyclist, taking part in the 1951 Tour of Britain and a wrestler, grappling in 107 bouts, of which the first 35 were loses. As he said

"No wrestler wanted to go back home and say a long-haired disc jockey had put him down. So from start to finish I got a good hiding. I've broken every bone in my body. I loved it."

But it was in 1958 and 1960 that he made his breaks into first Radio and then television. From 1958-1967 he was a disc jockey on Radio Luxembourg before in 1968 he joined BBC Radio 1.

In 1960 he hosted the Tyne Tees music programme Young at Heart on the TV, he must have done ok as after 4 years of doing that the BBC let him on New Years Day 1964 say the words. "It's number one, it's Top of the Pops" for the first time. 42 years later on 30 July 2006 he after the closing credits of the last Top of the Pops which he co-hosted he was the last one there saying "It's number one, it's still Top of the Pops" before turning out the studio lights.

However, the show, apart from Top of the Pops that he is associated with is the one that bares his name Jim'll Fix It. It originally ran from 31 May 1975 until July 1994 at around this time, teatime, on a Saturday. The show received over 2000 letters a week at it's heyday and the best were being picked to live out their dreams and be awarded with the coveted Jim Fixed It for Me medal on a red ribbon. In 2007 he returned with Jim'll Fix It for Me: Strikes Again it was to show some of the original Fix Its with the fixees all these years later, recreate some of the original Fix Its and make new dreams come true. In the first episode co-presenter Mel Giedroyc, went to Blackpool Pleasure beaches Irn Bru Revolution with some men dressed in shorts, woggles and caps who 26 years previous had been filmed eating and drinking but largely making a mess on the ride. Yeah the former boys of 2nd Sutton St. Mary's Cub Pack were at it again.

However, Jimmy Savile also ran 212 Marathons and races over other distances for the charity Phab (Physically handicapped and able bodied) and was a great patron of Stoke Mandeville hospital and their spinal injuries unit. Often in garish tracksuits to match the gold jewellery that so often bedecked his neck and wrists. He was refused an entry in the first London Marathon in 1982, but turned up with the number 0000 on his gold track suit and running gear (see picture) and completed the course. In 2005 aged 79 he ran his last London Marathon, sadly he never ran it as the oldest man. However, for Phab, Stoke Mandeville and other charities he raised over £40,000,000 in his lifetime. That should and always will be his most heart felt lasting legacy.

For his charitable works he was knighted two times, by Her Mzjesty the Queen in her 1990 Birthday Honours and in the same year by His Holiness the Pope, making him also a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory.

Sir James Wilson Vincent "Jimmy" Savile OBE, KCSG (31 October 1926 – 29 October 2011)

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