29 Oct 2011

Tributes paid to Sir Jimmy Savile

Tributes from friends have been paid after the death of the veteran TV and radio star Sir Jimmy Savile, who died aged 84.

The star presented the very first episode of Top of The Pops and was best know for his series Jim’ll Fix It. He had been admitted to Leeds hospital in September with pneumonia and was released a few weeks later.

Police were called to his home in Roundhay, Leeds, at midday and confirmed his death. They said there were no suspicious circumstances.

Presenter Louis Theroux told Channel 4 News he was deeply saddened and that he was a “complete one-off”.

The veteran TV and radio star Sir Jimmy Savile died today at his home in Leeds. He was 84.

Sir Jim worked as a miner in his native Yorkshire when he was caught in an underground explosion. He was caught beneath a collapsing coal face damaging his spine so severely he was told he would not be able to walk again. However after three years Sir Jim was able to throw away his walking sticks.

He has since then raised millions for charity and for many years was a regular marathon runner in support of good causes.

Appearing in his trademark jewellery, tracksuit and tinted glasses, he was the consummate showman and was best known for his hugely popular children’s programme – Jim’ll Fix It.

The series ran for more than twenty years, he starred as the host of Jim’ll Fix It and worked miracles for more than 1,500 children granting them their heart’s desires.

Among the more famous fix-its was the time when he arranged for an unknown 11-year-old called Nigel Kennedy to perform on television. The youngster went on to become one of the world’s most celebrated violinists.

Sir Jimmy Savile – a life in pictures, click to access our photo gallery

Sir Jim’s earnings were substantial and he owned at least eight homes and a fleet of expensive cars including a Bentley Turbo, a Mercedes 500 SL and a flashy Rolls-Royce.

But Sir Jim gave away nine-tenths of his income to two charitable trusts and in the later part of his career, he became more famous for his charity fund-raising and work as a voluntary helper at Stoke Mandeville, Leeds Infirmary and Broadmoor.

Louis Theroux stayed with Sir Jim for his When Louie met Jimmy programme, and they struck up a friendship that continued past that programme.

Theroux told Channel 4 News:

“He was a complete one-off. Wrestler, charity fundraiser, deejay, fixer, prankster, and professional enigma.

“He was also a plainspoken Yorkshire philosopher and psychologist.

“He lived his life according to his maxim, often uttered, “If it ain’t a game it’s a shame.” He loved to entertain, to dazzle, and to joke.

“In an age of agents, PRs, and media handlers, he was completely the opposite, utterly free of showbiz airs. He was as far from being a diva as one could imagine.

“When he broke his foot while I was with him making a documentary, he presented us with a choice. Either we could take him to hospital, or we could carry on filming. We took the hospital option, though I don’t doubt he would have hobbled gamely through the day if we’d asked him to.

“The documentary we made together was a warts-and-all portrait. In it he talked about tying up people in his nightclub days and being questioned by the police for it.

“Several times on camera he was also caught in exaggerations and fibs and evasions.

“Yet when the director showed him the finished film Jimmy pronounced himself satisfied.

“My director and I stayed in touch with Jimmy after we completed filming. For several years we’d travel up for an overnight visit once a year or so.

“We’d go out to the Flying Pizza restaurant with a camera and videotape Jimmy as he presided over birthdays with a kind of papal celebrity. But the camera didn’t have tape in it – as Jimmy himself knew – he just enjoyed the idea that everyone thought they were being filmed and the sense of occasion it created.

“There won’t be another one like him.”