Let me explain . I am, and have always been a music lover. I listen to all kinds of music. To me , the Beatles and the Stones can sit easily beside Satie or Hoagy Carmichael. In my record collection there’s even space for Stanley Holloway’s songs and monologues and Sinatra’s swing…Tosca and Tom Waits …Bob Dylan with Leonard Cohen…Nick Drake with Percy Sledge..It doesn’t matter to me if it’s Gershwin or Mozart…old, ancient or new as long as it’s good….Okay, you get the picture.I am a music collector too, so my home is replete with old vinyl, cds , ancient bootleg concert cassettes and now neat little ipods and external hard drives full to the brim with audio and music video.
When I watch a little late night television , I might catch those old music documentaries or rock music re-runs on BBC4 .Now, of course, we are living in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex scandal which all but sank the BBC’s credibility as Aunty and Godmother of the national moral interest. They allowed Savile , a paedophile and sex monster free access to spread his calumny throughout the corporation in popular programmes in each decade since the early 1960s. He originally hosted popular music programmes such as “Top of the Pops” and also charitable shows like “Jim ‘ll fix It”. He became part of the weft and weave of everyday life.He was allowed to enter our living rooms while in the backrooms of the nation he merrily fiddled at every opportunity.I can’t say any of us ,with any critical facilties hadn’t got some vague idea that behind the unholy eccentricity lay a more predatory beast. We knew there was an oddness there but we didn’t know the detail. None of those things stopped us from enjoying the television shows .They were very popular. That can’t be denied. Why they were popular could be argued about for some time. I had watched “Top of the Pops ” from the beginning as a young teenager when the Beatles and the Stones were the main draw. It certainly wasn’t Jimmy Savile’s eccentricity as presenter that drew the music fans in. Of course , since those “clockwork” television days there has been a technological revolution and virtually any piece of music or film is available to download from the worldwide web ..either legally or illegally .I have footage of some of the old New Musical Express poll-winners concerts from the 1960s in which Savile introduces among other acts , our very own Van Morrison’s blues band, “Them “. It’s a peek into a moment in the musicians ‘ lives when they were obviously scuffling up undeveloped roads in little vans and making ferry crossings to appear at these events . In that context ,Savile’s involvement was only an aberration, but it is part of both Van Morrison ‘s and our history . He is indelibly featured on an awful lot of film stock and video archive , in other words….Whether we like it or not.
Last Saturday night, an old Top of the Pops piece was screened in which Savile briefly appeared , apparently …mere seconds in time … seemingly dancing with one of the girls in the audience…and possibly brushing close to her breasts. It was a blink and you’ll miss it moment apparently. The BBC received some two hundred phone calls and the re-run on iPlayer was edited to exclude Savile . Apparently he is already being edited…in the backrooms…. out of our social history . People want him to totally disappear. The BBC have been doing this already .They simply missed this little aside, which most likely flashed by in the blink of an eye. It seems obvious that any old footage that includes any reference to Savile will either be destroyed or heavily edited lest it offends . I don’t know what anyone else thinks about this but I think censoring our social history , for any reason, is to re-write our very history. It should be remembered ,at this moment, that Jimmy Savile has been dead for some years now and is already safely buried beneath some six feet of compacted earth .
Each day brings some new expose of a once-popular figure .As I write the media are currently raking through singer Cliff Richard’s past.I have no problem with these exposes, but I do have concerns about censorship and the re-writing of historical “fact” They can throw the book at Dave Lee Travis and Rolf Harris if they want, but leave the facts alone…
In another generation, will anyone really know what “truth” actually means?
If this seam of logic is mined it can only lead to footage of historical or social figures such as Hitler or….. even Gary Glitter….being edited out of our worldview.No matter the sins of these individual past lives, how can any of that be right?