JIMMY Savile’s long-time producer on children’s TV show Jim’ll Fix It said today he was completely unaware of the presenter’s activities and said the star managed to “hoodwink” him.
But Roger Ordish said he did know that Savile had a “predilection for younger females”.
In his first interview since the disclosures about Savile’s alleged abuse of possibly dozens of underage victims over a period of many years, he described the presenter as a “manipulative” man.
But he told ITV1’s This Morning he saw no abuse during the two decades in which he worked with the late TV and radio host.
“I didn’t see anything and nothing was reported to me,” he said.During their years working together, Ordish said Savile, whom he described as a private man who “compartmentalised” different areas of his life, even stayed at his home.
“He slept in a bedroom next to my 14-year-old daughter and I hope that is some indication that we had no suspicions of anything of this nature at all,” he said.
The disclosures about Savile’s private life were made in an ITV documentary a fortnight ago which had dismayed Ordish.
“I was absolutely shocked and shattered and I was surprised that I had not been approached by the programme,” he said of the Exposure documentary.
He maintained he knew nothing about Savile’s activities, although he told This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby there had been rumours.
But he went on: “You hear rumours about everybody famous, there must be rumours that go around about you two.
“We were aware that Jim had a predilection for younger females,” he added, saying it was obvious from the way he chatted to girls.
Ordish said Savile would compliment them on their beauty, “but nothing obscene”.
“These are girls who are young females, they’re not children. They could have been 14 looking like 18, but they were not children in my definition of the word,” he said.
David Cameron has been facing Labour demands to set up an independent inquiry into the Savile sex abuse scandal.
Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted that a broad inquiry into Savile’s activities at the BBC, Stoke Mandeville hospital and Broadmoor was essential to “do right by the victims”.
But Culture Secretary Maria Miller has dismissed calls for an independent inquiry, saying she was “confident” BBC chiefs were taking the claims “very seriously”.
The BBC has announced two inquiries as a result of the furore. One will look into whether there were any failings over the handling of an abandoned Newsnight report about Savile, while the second will examine the “culture and practices of the BBC” during the years the presenter worked there.
Police believe the DJ and television presenter’s alleged catalogue of sex abuse could have spanned six decades and included about 60 victims.
Some have claimed they were abused in Savile’s dressing room, but Ordish said there would have been little opportunity for him to be unaccompanied with young guests during recordings of Jim’ll Fix It.
“I don’t think he’d be alone in his dressing room at all, because there was always somebody there. There was wardrobe, there was make-up, the researchers had to take him through the people that were ‘fixing’,” he said.
If anyone had come to him at the time with allegations, Ordish said he “most certainly” would have taken it higher within the BBC.
Asked if he may have blocked his ears to any claims, he said: “I don’t think so. There wasn’t ever a climate where it was acceptable to molest under-age females.
“The youngsters that were on Jim’ll Fix It always had chaperones, usually in the form of parents, with them.”
One guest on Savile’s show had claimed to have been abused when he was a nine-year-old in his cub scout uniform. An emotional Ordish said it was “possible” Savile could have molested him in the dressing room following the recording.
“There’s such overwhelming evidence that these things happened, that they can not all have been fabricated. But Jimmy Savile was a very clever man and he seems to have succeeded in hoodwinking a prime minister, the Vatican, the civil police forces, the NHS hospitals up and down the country and some members of the BBC staff, including me. I’d say he was a manipulative man.”
He said Jim’ll Fix It “is being regarded as guilty by association and I want to assure people who were on it that the joy and the fun they had has not gone and not diminished”.
Ordish added: “If he could hoodwink all these powerful people, he could hoodwink me as well.
“And I don’t think I could have gone out on a busy studio day being an investigator to see if I thought he was doing something untoward because I never for a moment imagined that he was.”
Responding to Mr Miliband’s call, a Downing Street spokeswoman told a regular media briefing in Westminster: “Nothing has been ruled out, but our view is it would be premature to prejudge the outcome of the two BBC inquiries and the police investigation.”