Clunk-Click (partially found Jimmy Savile variety show; 1973-1974)
Clunk-Click is a BBC television variety show hosted by British television and radio personality Jimmy Savile. The premise involved Savile interviewing various guests either within the studio, or within their home or workplace. The show lasted for two seasons from 1973-1974 before being replaced by Jim'll Fix It, while also contributing towards Savile being deemed a national treasure during his lifetime. However, the show and other programs involving Savile now live in infamy after many child sexual abuse allegations were made against him following his death in 2011.
Clunk-Click gets its name from a series of road safety public information films Savile presented in the 1970s and 80s. It encouraged people to wear seatbelts, even during the shortest of road journeys, with "Clunk-Click" being the sound of closing the car door and then attaching the seatbelt. It proved influential even before seatbelts were made compulsory in the United Kingdom in 1983.
The show Clunk-Click was produced by Roger Ordish, and directed by Bruce Milliard. The premise as detailed by Radio Times involves Savile meeting and interviewing his friends, typically within the studio or the location where the friend lived or worked at. Among guests interviewed by Savile included Alfred Morris, an MP most known for being the first ever Minister for the Disabled; Gary Glitter, a glam rock pop singer; and Freddie Starr, a comedian. Savile also visited locations across the United Kingdom, including Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where in the same episode as the Morris interview Savile talked with two young patients at the Hospital.
Ultimately, the show only received lukewarm reviews in its first series, with a second 13-week series being commissioned from February 1974. The show was deemed a product of its time, with the show generally targeted towards younger demographics with much of the in-studio audience also consisting of children. It would go on to be replaced by Jim'll Fix It in 1975.
Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal
Clunk-Click, as well as Savile's many other shows like Top of the Pops, contributed towards Savile being deemed a national treasure during his lifetime. He was also highly regarded for his charity fundraising, raising around £40 million for charities, and did hospital work for places like Stoke Mandeville Hospital. He was also knighted by the Queen in 1990. Thus, when he passed away on 29th October 2011, much of the United Kingdom was in deep mourning, and many tributes were made to him, including by the BBC.
Not long after Savile's death, however, rumours began to spread regarding the television and radio personality's conduct throughout his lifetime, with many allegations of child sexual abuse being made against him. The BBC program Newsnight had investigated reports of sexual abuse claims against Savile immediately following his death, with various alleged victims being interviewed. This program was dropped, however, with allegations of a cover-up, including to prevent compromising the BBC tributes. Almost a year on from Savile's death, the ITV program Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile was broadcast on 3rd October 2012, with several women that were interviewed claiming Savile sexually abused them as teenagers, with additional claims that Savile used such programs as Savile's Travels and Top of the Pops to gain access to further underaged victims.
By 11th October, numerous allegations began to be made to thirteen police forces across the United Kingdom, leading to Operation Yewtree being launched by Metropolitan Police on 19th October to investigate historical sex offences made by Savile, other celebrities like Max Clifford and Rolf Harris, and other individuals like former Stoke Mandeville Hospital medical doctor Michael Salmon. The investigation determined that Savile had at least 450 alleged victims, making him one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders. His alleged actions had no bounds, with victims ranging from both genders, and from prepubescent to adult age. Additionally, he was given free reign at places like adult high-security psychiatric Broadmoor Hospital, and Stoke Mandeville Hospital, which treated many cases of spinal injuries. Victims unable to fight back or even comprehend what was happening to them, were consistently abused by Savile during his visits. Further, allegations that Savile engaged in necrophilia in places like the mortuary in Broadmoor Hospital, also came to light.
Clunk-Click and sexual abuse allegations
Some of the 450 victims of Savile claimed their abuse occurred when they were guests on Clunk-Click. Many of these incidents were said to have occurred within Savile's dressing room. Additionally, it is known that Savile invited various vulnerable young girls from places like Broadmoor and Duncroft to be within the audience, with available clips of the show typically showing Savile with one or more of these girls on his arm. One victim stated she was repeatedly abused by Savile when she was a teenager, including within the dressing room. She described how Savile would invite many children back into the dressing room as a treat, where he was surrounded by them and allowed them to get drunk and smoke cigarettes.
Savile was not the only celebrity accused of abuse; The guest claimed she witnessed Gary Glitter sexually abusing a girl within the dressing room. Glitter, who has been convicted for numerous child abuse-related crimes since 1999, was the first to be arrested under Operation Yewtree, where he would be convicted for historical child sex offences in February 2015 and be sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Additionally, she recalled that Freddie Starr had attempted to molest her following an episode of Clunk-Click, and had humiliated her in front of the other guests. Starr was arrested multiple times during Operation Yewtree, but was never charged with a crime. Starr responded by stating the guest was a fantasist, claiming he never met the guest nor had he ever stepped foot in Savile's dressing room. However, a clip of Starr on Clunk-Click where the guest could clearly be seen behind him disproved the first claim. While Starr was never charged for this incident, a subsequent civil trial where he attempted to sue the guest resulted in a Judge declaring that the guest had proven Starr molested her.
As a result of the numerous allegations made against Savile, his programs, including Clunk-Click, will never air on British television again. With no home media nor many repeats of the show, as well as the sinister connotations the show now brings, it has led to the majority of its episodes becoming lost media. According to a synopsis from the British Film Institute (BFI), 20 episodes were produced. Of these, only six remain accessible as part of BFI's archive, with other search results for Clunk-Click pointing towards same-named episodes of other television shows or Savile's "Clunk Click" road safety advertisements. A few segments are also viewable on YouTube; these include the clips featuring Glitter and Starr used as part of Operation Yewtree investigations against them.
- BBC News article detailing the Clunk-Click public information films. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC Genome archive of Radio Times listings, detailing Clunk-Click's premise. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Independent article providing a biography of Alfred Morris. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Guardian providing a biography of Gary Glitter. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Guardian obituary for Freddie Starr. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile detailing Clunk-Click and the audience predominantly consisting of children. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- CNN article detailing how Savile was deemed a national treasure before his crimes were uncovered. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC News article concerning the dropped Newsnight report and allegations of a cover-up. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC News article reporting on the first public allegations against Savile, including by some victims who would be interviewed on Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC News article reporting on ITV investigator Mark Williams-Thomas' beliefs that Savile's shows were engineered to gain access to children. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC News article concerning allegations being made to thirteen police forces. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Guardian article discussing Operation Yewtree. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Guardian article reporting on Michael Salmon's conviction as part of Operation Yewtree. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC News article reporting on the 450 alleged sexual abuse victims of Savile, with variation on gender and age. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Independent article concerning Savile abusing staff, patients and visitors, including at Broadmoor Hospital. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Guardian article reporting on Savile allegedly abusing 60 victims during his free rein at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Guardian article reporting on alleged necrophiliac acts made by Savile. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- TV Worth Watching noting the vulnerable young girls often being audience members for Clunk-Click. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Daily Mail providing a guest's account of the incidents occurring within Savile's dressing room. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Daily Mail article where the guest claims Glitter abused a girl in Savile's dressing room. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC News reporting on Glitter's arrest under Operation Yewtree. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC News reporting that Glitter was jailed for 16 years following his conviction. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC News reporting on the early stages of Starr's claim and the guest's accusations. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Daily Mirror reporting on Starr's various arrests. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- Daily Mail video showing a clip where Starr was on Clunk-Click, with his alleged victim behind him. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- BBC News reporting that Starr lost his High Court claim. Retrieved 18 Nov '21
- British Film Institute noting how many episodes of the show exist. Retrieved 12 Apr '22