Children in Need asked to apologise over Savile's roles in TV appeals


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The Independent Online

The BBC was coming under pressure last night over its Children in Need charity, with executives being warned that the Jimmy Savile scandal makes it important the corporation prioritise donations to help victims of sexual abuse.

The corporation also faced demands for an on-air apology when the TV appeal is launched next month and a pledge to help the former DJ's victims.

Children's rights campaigners said the need was particularly pressing because, despite rumours about Savile's predatory behaviour, he was allowed to take prominent roles in Children in Need TV appeals.

Not only did he front a special Jim'll Fix It compilation for the appeal in 1984, but in 1987 as part of the appeal he "fixed it" for the EastEnders actress Letitia Dean and a young girl, Kate, to visit HMS Newcastle in Portsmouth. And in 1989 Savile was among the celebrities manning the phone lines for Children in Need.

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) is demanding an apology during the show.

Peter Saunders, chief executive of Napac, said: "I will be writing to the Director General George Entwistle next week, asking the BBC to help survivors of abuse because I think they owe it to them."

Five leading UK women's organisations have also written to Mr Entwistle calling on him to ensure the appeal prioritises organisations which support survivors of abuse. A BBC source said it was too early to know what might happen: "We have only just announced the line-up; nothing is confirmed."