When Louis asked Jimmy about being a paedophile

A scene from the 2000 interview shows the allegations were a long time coming.

The culture of silence around the apparently widely known allegations that Jimmy Savile abused children who appeared on Jim'll Fix It in the 1970s was strong, but not impermeable. One of the few people to break it - even slightly - was broadcaster Louis Theroux, who had the following conversation with Savile in When Louis Met Jimmy, which aired in April 2000:

Voiceover: We were nearing the end of our time together, and as we headed back to Leeds, it was clear that Jimmy was pleased about the press coverage of his broken ankle.

But it struck me that his relationship with the press hasn't always been a happy one.

Louis: So, why do you say in interviews that you hate children when I've seen you with kids and you clearly enjoy their company and you have a good rapport with them? 

Jimmy: Right, obviously I don't hate 'em. That's number one. 

Louis: Yeah. So why would you say that then? 

Jimmy: Because we live in a very funny world. And it's easier for me, as a single man, to say "I don't like children" because that puts a lot of salacious tabloid people off the hunt. 

Louis: Are you basically saying that so tabloids don't, you know, pursue this whole 'Is he/isn't he a paedophile?' line, basically? 

Jimmy: Yes, yes, yes. Oh, aye. How do they know whether I am or not? How does anybody know whether I am? Nobody knows whether I am or not. I know I'm not, so I can tell you from experience that the easy way of doing it when they're saying "Oh, you have all them children on Jim'll Fix It", say "Yeah, I hate 'em." 

Louis: Yeah. To me that sounds more, sort of, suspicious in a way though, because it seems so implausible. 

Jimmy: Well, that's my policy, that's the way it goes. That's what I do. And it's worked a dream. 

Pause

Louis: Has it worked? 

Jimmy: A dream. 

Pause

Louis: Why have you said in interviews that you don't have emotions? 

Jimmy: Because it's easier. It's easier. You say you've emotions then you've got to explain 'em for two hours. 

Jimmy: The truth is I'm very good at masking them. 

The scene is not online, but the chat begins at 44:40 in this episode.

Louis and Jimmy. Photograph: BBC

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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The New Statesman podcast.

Helen is joined by Anoosh to consider whether a new political party would have any chance of success in the UK. Then they discuss the TV shows everyone really likes to watch but doesn't admit to and analyse why the quality of Don't Tell The Bride has declined. Finally, a bumper You Asked Us section including listener questions on social care, punching Nazis, the Tory economic agenda and more.

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Further reading:

The NS centenary debate from 2013 - did the left win the twentieth century?

Meet the Ivanka Voter by Anne Helen Petersen on Buzzfeed.

Anoosh on the EDL.

Why is Love Island so Tory?

How Don't Tell the Bride lost its spark

Take Me Out and the failures of feminism by Alan White.