Rolf Harris: BBC producer John Lloyd admits 'child-snatching' sketch from 1980 makes his ‘blood run cold’

Sketch playing out over credits shows children bundled into a van headed for 'Rolf on Saturday OK?'

The writer and TV producer John Lloyd has said it "makes his blood run cold" to look back on a comedy sketch from 1980 that shows young children being abducted and put in a BBC van bound for a children's TV show hosted by Rolf Harris.

The disgraced Australian children's entertainer was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail last week for abusing girls as young as seven.

This week, a video clip from the satirical sketch show 'Not The Nine O'Clock News', which was written and co-produced by Lloyd, was widely shared on YouTube containing a joke about Harris's hit children's programme "Rolf on Saturday OK?".

The sketch, which runs over the credits, features Rowan Atkinson and Mel Smith snatching children from the streets and bundling them into a van adorned with the name of Harris's programme.

The footage, first broadcast in December 1980 in episode seven, series three of the BBC comedy show, was described as "revealing" by online commentators and posted on the blog of the former Daily Telegraph columnist Norman Lebrecht with the caption: "Watch, and wonder. Who knew?"

Lloyd said that he and the team had been making a "pathetically mild" joke about how they "had to drum up an audience for a terrible Saturday show" - and that it was "awful" to look back on the video in the wake of Harris' sex abuse convictions.

He told The Independent: "It is extraordinary how spooky it is, it's almost prophetic.

"It makes the blood run cold to watch it now thinking about what he had done."

Lloyd said the sketch was run under the credits in the first place because it wasn't particularly strong - the producers' way of "not bigging it up too much" - but that it was a completely different experience to watch it now.

"It's not funny with hindsight - it's absolutely grotesque," he said.

Lloyd, who has produced BBC comedies including Not the Nine O'Clock News, QI and Spitting Image Lloyd, who has produced BBC comedies including Not the Nine O'Clock News, QI and Spitting Image The clip is described on YouTube as having been 'banned', but Lloyd insisted it hadn't been and rejected any suggestion that he or anyone on the writing team "knew" about Harris's abusive reputation.

He said: "There’s this idea that people who do satire are uncaring or cruel – but there was huge amounts of editorial discussion every week about where the line was and if we had crossed it.

"I’d never heard of anything about Harris, and even if I had it would beggar belief to do [this sketch] – the lawyers would be all over us."

Lloyd, who is also known for his work on Spitting Image, Blackadder and QI, said that BBC controllers also watched Not the Nine O'Clock News output "like hawks", and said: "If there had been any rumours at all about Harris at that higher level they would have stopped [the sketch] straight away."

Since Harris's sentencing on Friday last week, more reports have emerged of allegations about his conduct - some of which will never now be put before a jury.

It was revealed on Friday that the Crown Prosecution Service will drop charges over claims Harris browsed websites featuring girls as young as 13 because it was "no longer in the public interest" to pursue a second trial.

Today it emerged that Harris's plumber claimed he found a stash of child sex abuse images under floorboards at a home owned by the entertainer in the late 1960s and early '70s.

And at the weekend the TV presenter Vanessa Feltz and the singer Linda Nolan separately claimed that Harris had sexually assaulted them live on TV and backstage at a concert.

Harris, 84, was jailed last week after being found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault against four victims between 1968 and 1985.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn