Fans pay respects to showman Jimmy Savile

 

Broadcasting legend Sir Jimmy Savile was described today as "a
showman right till the end" as his gold-coloured coffin was displayed to
the public as part of his three-day funeral.

In a style in keeping with the veteran DJ's life, the casket was placed in The Queens Hotel, in his home city of Leeds, surrounded by items of memorabilia, for fans to visit to pay their last respects.

And as members of the public queued in the rain, details of Sir Jimmy's last wishes emerged, including his request to be buried at a 45-degree angle overlooking the sea in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

The larger-than-life broadcaster's closed coffin, which will be displayed for most of the day in the bar of the hotel, features a crucifix and was covered with white roses.

Pictures of Sir Jimmy, wearing his trademark round, pink-tinted glasses, were displayed in the room and the last cigar he ever smoked was placed in an ashtray on a table in front of the casket.

Also on the table were Sir Jimmy's two This Is Your Life books, another crucifix, a candle and another photograph of the star.

He will be buried with a Royal Marines medal and green beret and a Help for Heroes wristband. He will be wearing his own clothes.

When asked if the broadcasting icon would have approved of today's event, his friend Howard Silverman said he "would have loved it".

Mr Silverman, who was friends with Sir Jimmy for 40 years, said: "He was a showman right till the end. I think he would have liked it - it's just a pity he's not here to see it."

Mr Silverman, who is reading a eulogy at tomorrow's funeral at the Roman Catholic St Anne's Cathedral in Leeds, said the plans for the DJ's funeral were in keeping with his wishes.

"He would tell me all the things that he wanted," he said. "Standing up at a 45-degree angle in his grave and 'It was good while it lasted' on his headstone."

Funeral director Robert Morphet, of Joseph A Hey & Son Ltd, said he had never been asked to organise a three-day funeral and staff had been working 12- to 14-hour days to accommodate the 84-year-old broadcaster's wishes.

Tomorrow, Sir Jimmy's funeral cortege will visit his mother's house and the Leeds General Infirmary before arriving at the cathedral for a Requiem Mass.

On Thursday, the coffin will tour Scarborough, where he had a flat, to give people there the chance to pay their respects before Sir Jimmy is laid to rest at an angle in the most elevated plot in the cemetery.

Mr Morphet said: "As per Sir Jimmy's wishes, the casket will be at an angle of 45 degrees in the grave so he can see the sea.

"In my 32 years doing the job, I have never had a request like it."

PA

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