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LONDON – The BBC on Tuesday spoke out about an upcoming documentary on U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV that alleges that Jimmy Savile, the late British broadcaster and former host of Top of the Pops, sexually abused young girls.
The documentary has naturally caused debate in media circles here.
Savile, who died in October 2011, was best known here for his BBC TV show Jim’ll Fix It and for being the first and last host of the public broadcaster’s long-running music charts show Top of the Pops.
“A number of serious and disturbing allegations have been made…about the sexual abuse of teenage girls by Jimmy Savile,” the BBC said Tuesday afternoon.
“Some of these allegations relate to activity on BBC premises in the 1960s and ’70s. We are horrified by allegations that anything of this sort could have happened at the BBC – or have been carried out by anyone working for the BBC.”
It added: “They are allegations of a serious criminal nature, which the police have the proper powers to investigate. So we have today asked the BBC Investigations Unit to make direct contact with all the police forces in receipt of allegations and offer to help them investigate these matters and provide full support to any lines of inquiry they wish to pursue.”
The Independent reported that the TV program, Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, which is set to air on Wednesday, also shows an interview with Savile, in which he defends pop star Gary Glitter.
Glitter was in 1999 convicted of downloading pornographic images of children. He was later jailed for three years for molesting two girls aged 11 and 12 in Vietnam, according to the paper.
The Independent said the old interview shows Savile defending for using the photos for his own “gratification” instead of selling them.
Press reports here have cited ITV as saying that its expose includes contributions from several women who claim that Savile sexually assaulted them while they were under age. The program is said to allege that he preyed on teenage girls whom he invited to appear on his shows.
In an ITV appearance Tuesday, broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, a former colleague of Savile’s at Radio 1 here, added fire to the flames, suggesting that the star used charity work and his show business standing to keep transgressions many knew about a secret.
Savile’s nephew told the Independent that he and his family were “disgusted and disappointed” that the allegations are being publicly discussed after his death.
“The guy hasn’t been dead for a year yet and they’re bringing these stories out,” it quoted the nephew as saying. “It could affect his legacy, his charity work, everything. I’m very sad and disgusted.”
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