Savile's Travels (partially found Jimmy Savile radio show; 1968-1973)
Savile's Travels is a BBC 1 Radio show hosted by British television and radio personality Jimmy Savile. The premise involved Savile detailing his travels across the United Kingdom while interviewing guests and also playing records upon request. The show lasted from 1968-1973 before being replaced by Jimmy Savile Top Ten Oldies 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.
Savile's Travels aired every Sunday on BBC 1 Radio. Here, Savile drove a campervan across areas of the United Kingdom, while he chatted to various guests, including young children, whom he encountered along the way. The first episode aired on 2nd June 1968 according to Issue 2,325 of Radio Times. During intermissions, Savile would typically also play various records, many of which were usually requested by the guests featured on the show. Lasting from 1968 to 1973, and drawing an average of five million viewers per episode, it appeared the show would continue running when it was extended to two hours. However, it was suddenly cancelled by Radio 1 controller Douglas Muggeridge in favour of a new show, Jimmy Savile Top Ten Oldies. Nevertheless, a segment of this show entitled Savile's Travels would continue to be listed by Radio Times up until 25th September 1977.
Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal
Savile's Travels, 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 October 29th, 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 after 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 underage 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 rein at places like adult high-security psychiatric facility 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 frequently 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.
Savile's Travels and sexual abuse allegations
Early in the investigation, in November 2012, the Metropolitan Police received nine reels of Savile's Travels that were recovered by an archivist in Finland. These contained a total of 45 recordings, some of which were made while the show was off-air, and all of which were deemed to contain Savile behaving inappropriately with young girls. Additionally, three recordings were published online allegedly showcasing Savile inappropriately touching and making suggestive comments towards girls. One clip contained a girl ordering Savile to "get off me" and "get off my backside", with Savile demanding she calls him "the only one" in her life.
Earlier in October, it was confirmed that Muggeridge was aware of allegations that Savile was behaving inappropriately around girls in 1973, many of which were connected to Savile's Travels. It prompted him to request Radio 1's then-press officer Rodney Collins to determine whether newspapers were going to publish these allegations. The Guardian also noted that Savile's Travels was removed off the Radio 1 schedule that same year, suggesting the reasons for cancellation stemmed beyond the creation of Jimmy Savile Top Ten Oldies.
It is alleged that some key crew members of Savile's Travels were also directly aware of Savile's deviancy. In a review by the BBC Trust regarding the Savile allegations, Dame Esther Rantzen had heard multiple rumours that Savile was "sexually interested" in young girls. She also recalled that the show's sound editor told her that Savile had sexual intercourse with several nurses at Stoke Mandeville, while also recording the encounters. It has never been proven whether the nurses had or had not given consent, and none of these alleged recordings have publicly resurfaced. Jeff Simpson, a press officer, detailed that he had heard similar rumours regarding Savile's behaviour at Stoke Mandeville. Additionally, he claimed he once heard Savile sexually abused a young girl within his camper-van, while show producer Ted Beston was driving to a civic reception before proceeding to stop within the outskirts of the town and let the girl exit the car. Beston reportedly denied these allegations.
As a result of the numerous allegations made against Savile, his programs, including Savile's Travels, will never air on British radio again. This has led to much of the show becoming lost media, with only a few small recordings being available online. The 45 recordings containing inappropriate behaviour from Savile are also extremely unlikely to be made publicly available by the Metropolitan Police considering their sinister nature and the fact they contain potentially incriminating material. However, three other recordings were leaked online and can still be listened to as of the present day, one of which was uploaded to YouTube by Channel 4 News.
- Clunk-Click (partially found Jimmy Savile variety show; 1973-1974)
- Jim'll Fix It (partially found Jimmy Savile television show; 1975-1994)
- Newsnight (partially found untelevised BBC report concerning Jimmy Savile sexual abuse allegations; 2011)
- Top Of The Pops (partially lost British music series; 1964-2006)
- IMDB page for Jimmy Savile's other works, including Savile's Travels.
- Some recordings on Radio Rewind.
- A surviving recording on Audioboom.
- Radio Rewind detailing the show's premise. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- The Guardian reporting on the nine reels of Savile's Travels recordings that were handed to the Metropolitan Police. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the first episode of Savile's Travels. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- A Thirst for Empire noting episodes of Savile's Travels drew an average of five million viewers. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- In Plain Sight detailing Savile's Travels being extended to two hours in September 1973, with rumours about Savile's behaviour on the show beginning to emerge. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the last known instance of a Savile's Travels segment. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- CNN detailing how Savile was deemed a national treasure before his crimes were uncovered. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- BBC News detailing the dropped Newsnight report and allegations of a cover-up. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- BBC News 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 28th Aug '22
- BBC News reporting on ITV investigator Mark Williams-Thomas' beliefs that Savile's shows were engineered so he could gain access to children. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- BBC News reporting on allegations being made to thirteen police forces. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- The Guardian detailing Operation Yewtree. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- The Guardian reporting on Michael Salmon's conviction as part of Operation Yewtree. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- BBC News reporting on the 450 alleged sexual abuse victims of Savile, with variation on gender and age. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- Independent reporting on allegations Savile abused staff, patients and visitors, including at Broadmoor Hospital. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- The Guardian reporting on Savile allegedly abusing 60 victims during his free rein at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- The Guardian reporting on alleged necrophiliac acts made by Savile. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- The Guardian reporting on Muggeridge being aware of allegations connected to the show in 1973. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- BBC Trust detailing some allegations connected to Savile's Travels. Retrieved 28th Aug '22
- Missing Episodes discussing Savile's Travels and its lost media. Retrieved 28th Aug '22