2 Nov 2012

How Jimmy Savile revealed all in the psychiatrist’s chair

A rare transcript of a radio interview with Jimmy Savile, obtained by Channel 4 News, reveals startling insights into a man who planned escape methods and said “I could be corrupted”.

How Jimmy Savile revealed all in the psychiatrist's chair. (Getty)

In 1991 Jimmy Savile gave a chilling interview that left BBC psychiatrist Anthony Clare with concerns about the then beloved broadcaster.

A full transcript of the recording obtained by Channel 4 News reveals dramatic insights into Savile’s disturbed psyche and his obsession with holding “ultimate freedom”. Savile even boasted on air of his escape plans should he ever be caught out in a major career-ending scandal.

The interview appears in a book by BBC Radio 4 psychiatrist, the late Anthony Clare, which brings together a number of interviews from the radio series In The Psychiatrists Chair.

Throughout Savile refuses to allow Dr Clare through his facade; denying having any emotions, using patter and concocted stories to distract from awkward questions.

Savile reveals that there was nobody who knew him intimately and insists “what you see is what you get”. Dr Clare notes that as the seventh child in his family a young Savile was emotionally and materially deprived and his “spartan emotional regimen” hinted at powerful reasons to shun intimacy.

“His reluctance to plant emotional roots is mirrored in his refusal to identify any one physical location as home,” Clare states in his 1992 book.

‘I could be corrupted’

Clare notes that if Savile does have feelings he is “unable or unwilling” to express them concluding: “There is something chilling about this 20th-century ‘saint’ which still intrigues me to this day.”

When asked by Dr Clare about his freedom from emotional attachments to people, Savile boasted: “I’m not constrained pretty well by anything.

“The tough thing in life is ultimate freedom, that’s when the battle starts. Ultimate freedom is what it’s all about, because you’ve got to be very strong to stand for ultimate freedom.

“Ultimate freedom is the big challenge, now I’ve got it, and I can tell you there’s not many of us that have got ultimate freedom. I’ve got some considerable clout as well, all over. That is where the battle, the personal battle starts now.”

“I’ve managed to handle complete and ultimate utter freedom. It’s marvellous but it’s dangerous.

“It would be easy to be corrupted by many things, when you’ve got ultimate freedom, especially when you’ve got clout. I could be corrupted.”

If a scandal comes up or something like that or the people go off you, you’re finished.
Jimmy Savile

He goes on to say he has “all the money that was ever printed” and as such can do what he wants when he wants, stating “it is all too much”.

Savile explains how he never sleeps in the same place two nights in a row and carries a shoulder bag that has not been completely unpacked for “nearly 30 years”.

His obsession with making money is questioned, with Savile revealing an odd motive for always keeping a new car in the driveway. Knowing what we now know, it seems he prepared to be ready to go on the run.

“I can go skint in a day. I can be finished like that. If a scandal comes up or something like that or the people go off you, you’re finished. I’d much rather go skint with a brand new Rolls Royce in the garage than one that’s eight years old that I love, because I’ll get more for it.

“So the day that I get finished by some whatever, then the bits and pieces that I’ve got I’ll make sure that they’re all paid up and they’re all brand new because I could then go and be very unhappy in the south of France, covered in shame and sunshine and mad birds with bikinis on for a long time because there was a new Rolls Royce there and a new this and a new that.

“So I am all terribly logical which is actually bad news for you guys, because common sense and logic don’t leave you with a lot to find out.”

‘I haven’t got an interest in charity, not really’

Savile boasts of suing newspapers to keep them out of his personal affairs and confidently states that even if he lost everything he would quickly regain his position in society.

“I’ve got the freedom to do pretty well anything now including being bored, or being alone or being with people or getting things, I suppose if I didn’t have that I would only see that as a temporary setback because somewhere my inventiveness is such that if I had everything taken away from me now it wouldn’t be long before I got it back again.

He goes on to claim he “hates children” and has no interest in charity: “I haven’t got an interest in charity, not really. No it’s just that I’ve got a knack, I think you’re putting the cart before the horse there.

“Because I’ve got a knack for raising money or making money now, I don’t really care whether I make it… I don’t care whether I make it for me or somebody else, it’s academic to me, as long as I’m having a go at making it.”

‘When she was dead she was all mine, for me’

Savile’s relationship with his mother, who he called “the duchess”, was complex, he notes she never showed tactile affection but says she raised him for the first half of his life and he raised her for the second half. He barely mentions his father.

After his mother’s death he spent five days with her body before the funeral and claimed it was the happiest time of his life, when quizzed by Dr Clare Savile claims that in those days she was “all mine”.

“We hadn’t put her away yet and there she was lying around so to me they were good times, they were not the best times.

“I’d much rather that she hadn’t died but it was inevitable therefore it had to be. Once upon a time I had to share her with a lot of people. We had marvellous times but when she was dead she was all mine, for me. So therefore it finished up right, you understand, and then we buried her.”

Throughout the interview Savile refuses to open up about his feelings and goes to great pains to claim he has no skeletons in his closet: “I mean I don’t go away from here and indulge in some wild fetishes or wild weirdo things or anything like that.

“If you turned my stone over there ain’t nothing underneath it. It’s probably a boring stone for somebody like you who wants to find things out about people. What you’re seeing is actually what there is full stop.

He also openly confesses “I’m dishonest in inverted commas insofar as I’m a ducker and diver and if I see an opportunity of getting something by only going halfway round the course I’ll do it”.

In a way one can see his offending now as a way of enforcing his power, it’s essentially an act of power, abusing power.
Dr Seena Fazel

The analysis

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Seena Fazel, who has studied dozens of child sex abuse cases, has viewed the transcripts and told Channel 4 News that he believes Savile’s problems stem from unresolved issues from childhood and “emotional poverty”.

“There seemed to very little emotional warmth or support in growing up,” Dr Fazel explained.

“He makes it very clear he always lived a solitary life and is not interested in friendship…Clare’s conclusion is that this is a man who has profound psychological problems.”

Dr Fazel believes that Savile’s offending does not appear to be motivated solely by sexual urges but rather a lack of boundaries, both internal and external.

He explained that Savile believed he was above the law and kept himself detached from other people who could provide balance to his character.

Dr Fazel also notes that Savile is obsessed with power, which is rooted in a “sense of powerlessness growing up”, this is highlighted as the root of his problems.

“In a way one can see his offending now as a way of enforcing his power, it’s essentially an act of power, abusing power, rather than someone who has an unusual libido.”

“He talks about this unconstrained freedom that he had, it makes you wonder that if there were boundaries, either internal or external that they would have halted this offending behaviour and abuse. It highlights the importance of having boundaries.”

The full Savile interview transcript was first published in 1992 by Mandarin.