Sometimes people will believe anything in the name of charity

Just as the Savile accusations show, people often don't question those who do things for 'charitable causes'.

Related Topics

A few years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe I performed a show which climaxed with me picking on an audience member, giving them a wig, cigar and tracksuit top and then getting them to present me with a Jim’ll Fix It badge.

I had female Jimmy Saviles, Black Jimmy Saviles, young Jimmy Saviles, disabled Jimmy Saviles...all united in their ability to do a passable impression.  Looking back now it all seems rather creepy and sinister.

Whilst the revelations of the last few weeks have undoubtedly been shocking and horrific, I was particularly interested to hear DJ  Paul Gambaccini say how he thought Savile used his charity work with disabled people to cover up his activities. Indeed it has now emerged that Savile allegedly abused sick and disabled children in various hospitals and institutions. To me, the fact that he was able to get away with this kind of behaviour for so long is partly down to how society rarely questions or takes an objective, critical view of activities done in the name of charity. 

Admittedly I’m probably a charity collector’s worse nightmare. A while ago I spent a day travelling around London with a collection bucket to test what would be the most ludicrous fake charitable cause that someone like me could get money for from the British public.

As you can see, most people automatically throw coins into a collection bucket at the sight of me, irrespective of the cause I’m collecting for.  Nobody seems to question what I’m actually doing in the name of charity, just as no-one questioned the activities of Jimmy Savile for so long.

In contrast to his saintly public personae, amongst disability rights campaigners Savile was always a somewhat infamous, incredibly patronising figure. There is a near-legendary incident in the early nineties when Savile clashed with activists at Leeds Railway Station where he was opening a ‘garden for the handicapped'.  Ironically however, at the time both the station and the trains were not accessible.  So disabled protesters occupied the garden whilst flourishing banners saying ‘Rights Not Roses’.  Their aim was to draw attention to the farce that £30,000 could be spent on a garden whilst rail travel was still inaccessible.  By all accounts, Savile was pretty miffed at having his photo opportunity spoilt.

I myself encountered Savile when my class at the special school I attended made it onto Jim’ll Fix It in 1990.  Our fix-it was sandwiched between a boy who wanted to become invisible, a father playing maracas in a Mariachi band, a swatty kid who wanted to become a cinema manager and a little girl surprising her gran by making cheese – as if there wasn’t enough cheese already on Jim’ll Fix It!

We asked for a helicopter to land at our school and take away our French teacher – a pretty straight-forward request. But Jim didn’t do as we’d asked. He thought the public couldn’t possibly cope with seeing empowered, intelligent disabled kids playing a trick on their teacher. So he spoilt our surprise by telling our teacher, probably thinking it’d make him look better if he surprised us - the disabled kids - with the helicopter instead. 

But even back then at the tender age of 15, I could see how patronising and manipulative the whole thing was.  So when we were sat in the studio with him and he declared “you all have to pay £13,650 for your teacher’s day out!” I shouted back “Get lost!”.

So yes, I told Jimmy Savile to get lost on national television in front of millions of viewers - now that really did make my dream come true.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Office Administrator

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Dolphin Square where Lord Sewel allegedly took drugs with prostitutes  

Lord Sewel's real crime was joining the House of Lords in the first place

Boris Corovic

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food