New Documentary To Examine How Jimmy Savile “Hid In Plain Sight”

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Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is to explore the disgraced TV star’s relationship with the British public and the establishment.

The director Rowan Deacon has said it will also explore how Savile was “hiding in plain sight” for so long.

After he died in 2011, a myriad of allegations of sexual abuse were made against Savile.

This documentary will also explore Savile’s relationship with the prince of Wales. It will pay attention to the letters that were exchanged between the pair over the years.

These letters saw Savile provide advice on family and public matters.

“understanding of the nature of the friendship they had”  

Rowan Deacon also said that these letters were useful when it came to researching Savile’s communications with Prince Charles.

She said that they gave her a better “understanding of the nature of the friendship that they had”. A relationship that she felt was never fully understood before.

“I suppose what was most interesting, and why we’ve included those in the film, which looks really broadly at many reasons why Jimmy Savile wasn’t apprehended before he died, is that the relationship was one where Prince Charles trusted and respected Jimmy Savile”, she said.

“And I think that’s really interesting because I think what we were trying to do is look honestly at our, the British public’s, relationship with Jimmy Savile, in order to try and explain how he got away with it”. 

She continued, “And I think there’s been a temptation to say after the revelations ‘Oh well, I always knew, I always hated the man’. That seems to be the common answer we got when we phoned people up”. 

“And I think that’s unhelpful because I don’t think the archive material or footage brought that out. I think that isn’t the case. He was trusted and respected. And I think that we need to look at that in order to understand how perpetrators behave and how this happened”. 

What Savile was “really up to”

Deacon also was quick to emphasise they are “not suggesting at any moment” that the Prince knew what Savile was “really up to”.

Having looked through more than 700 hours of unreleased footage, she feels that Savile’s approach of “hiding in plain sight” had changed across the decades.

“I think in the 1960s and 1970s what’s most shocking is that his what we now describe as lascivious, creepy, assaulting behaviour on women, which is happening in front of the camera on broadcast footage, what’s shocking about that is not that he’s doing it because we now know what we know, it’s that nobody blinks an eye, it’s completely normal”, she claimed.

“So I think that the social conditions at the time normalised that kind of behaviour”, Deacon added.

“lasciviousness and creepiness”

“I don’t mean the things that we found out that he was also doing, but the sort of public lasciviousness and creepiness (that) was not judged as anything problematic”. 

After the 1990s, Deacon feels that Savile’s tactics changed. He became the “source of the rumours” having been largely viewed as this “creepy and strange figure”. 

She said, “He’s the one saying the creepy things and suggesting that he’s up to no good, and I think he does a kind of double bluff with the audience”. 

“So it’s quite confusing and people end up thinking ‘Well, he’s sort of saying it so it can’t be true’.

“And I think that kind of psychological game that goes on, it’s quite complex, that we can now look back at in the archive and we also asked our interviewees who were in the archives to look back at it themselves, which was kind of an interesting experience, really helps us to understand how this happened in a way that’s illuminating”. 

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is available on Netflix now. See trailer below.