I have never met Jimmy Saville and have no knowledge of the allegations against him, other than what I have seen and heard on the news.
But in my years as a television producer, I brushed up against my fair share of famous names and celebrities, and can see how easily they can get to believe they can get away with anything.
Anyone presenting a TV programme will be treated with kid gloves. When away filming, they’ll stay in a nice hotel (which someone else will book), they’ll have a car to transport them to the location – even if it’s just half a mile away – and they’ll be feted and fawned over and treated with the greatest respect by everyone involved.
The job of the production team is to make the best possible programme and to do that, you need to keep the presenter happy and on top form.
Once you get into the realms of ‘entertainment’ programmes, where the presenters and contributors tip into the world of celebrity, then this becomes magnified in the extreme.
Partly that’s down to agents who are able to make demands at will – and do so.
I worked several years ago on a wildlife fundraising programme. As producer I had to manage the whims of dozens of celebrities who were taking part.
Just a flavour:
The production team were doing our level best to be green, give the programme was about conservation, but even the most minor has-been insisted on a car to deliver them to the location, refusing to share with another D lister. We did use a fleet of hybrid cars.
The very scary agent of one veritable national treasure would not let them take part unless we also agreed to feature some wannabe on her books who she wanted to promote.
Another very well known name refused to turn up for rehearsals, wouldn’t then listen to instructions about their section of the programme and hijacked the contribution of another presenter.
One celebrity did their best to drink the green-room dry – before even appearing and despite the efforts of the poor runner looking who was under instructions from me ‘not to let them have another drink under any circumstances’ (every single one of those celebrities had a runner to fetch them drinks, make sure they were happy and get them to the right place at the right time for their contribution).
But because those in charge of programmes believe they need famous faces on their screens to get people to watch, they are allowed to get away with it. The last thing you want when you are about to go on air is someone who is angry or who might just decide not to turn up at the right time in the right place.
Given my experience, and those of many of my colleagues, I can easily see how Jimmy Saville might have been able to hoodwink, browbeat and blackmail his subordinates, and get away with his appalling behaviour for so long.