Aircheck Tracker

Profile: Sir Jimmy Saville OBE: Sir Jimmy was born the eldest of seven children in a terraced house in Leeds, Yorkshire.  His father was a bookmaker's clerk, and Jimmy left school at 14 to become a coalface worker at Waterloo Colliery in Leeds.  "Strange as it may seem" he once said in 1976 "I'd love to go back down the pit.  I spent seven and a half years there and I did enjoy it.  Of course, I did other jobs after, including farm work and selling scrap metal."

In 1961 he became assistant manager of the Locarno, Leeds, for the princely sum of 8 10s 0d.  At the time, he was asked if he was interested in doing a show for Radio Luxembourg.  In those days, all the programmes were recorded in London and flown over to the Grand Duchy - Jimmy had never been there!  He made his first appearance as a DJ for Radio Luxembourg presenting shows such as 'Teen and Twenty Disc Club', and 'Guys Gals and Groups'.  Later, he was told that the format was changing and they wanted multi-lingual announcers.  Jimmy didn't want to lose the job, so he lied and told them "languages - I speak seven.".  Having said that, he thought he'd better do something about getting translations of certain phrases.  Jimmy said: "As it happens, I knew an old German lady who agreed to help me.  I wanted to say 'a bird in the hand etc'  but she translated it into German.  It came out on the air as 'Pity the poor pigeon who gets a trunk stuffed up it's...and so on..  Later I got a call from the studio to say that everyone was on the floor laughing at what I'd said.  I also had to use a Spanish phrase and came out with something similar.  One of the bosses at Luxy was less amused and hauled me up.  He questioned by parentage and said 'it's too late for us to do anything now - we've got to scrap the whole idea' and he questioned by parentage again!   Ah well, I said.  There are two types of German, ordinary - which you obviously speak - and classical.  I speak classical."  Jimmy's story wasn't believed though!

Jimmy joined the BBC Radio 1 team from June 2nd 1968 with a weekly travel show called 'Savile's Travels' in which he travelled around the country chatting to people and playing records.  Despite not starting when the station launched in September 1967, a BBC spokesman pointed out that they'd always wanted a programme for him but they wanted to wait for the right type of programme. 'Savile's Travels' was just that programme. 

At the end of 1969 he was Chairman of a 'Review of the Decade' programme on BBCTV.  From September 1969, he presented 'Speak Easy', a one-hour weekly discussion programme on BBC Radio 1 - Jimmy recalls: "The BBC approached me about a second hour and so 'Speak Easy' was born.  It's like mass hypnosis.  I don't think of it as speaking into a microphone but hope people think that I'm talking especially to them."  He went on further as well, presenting 'The Double Top Ten' show all on Sunday afternoons from late 1975.

With the advent of commercial radio, a few people showed surprise that Jimmy wasn't hired by one of them, perhaps notably London's Capital Radio: "They couldn't pay me!" he remarked in 1976.  "There's no money in commercial radio in this country.  London would need many more stations to become a viable proposition..  Besides, if I do a programme for commercial radio, it's only localised and what would I get?  Around half a million listeners?  Speakeasy gets around eight million listeners and Savile's Travels around ten million.  By the way, 'Speakeasy' is the most listened to chat show in the United Kingdom, so why should I give all that up?"

Jimmy has presented "Top Of The Pops" for BBCTV, has written a weekly newspaper column and was once voted 'Top British DJ' by magazines several times.  Amongst his fads over the years, he's dyed his hair a variety of colours including pink, grey, blue and green - and at one stage, he had a 'half beard' which an American company offered him a huge sum of money to shave off for a TV ad, but he refused, saying that he simply wasn't ready to.

"TOTP" led to the hugely successful children's 'wish come true' show 'Jim'll Fix It' which ran for many years on BBC1 with millions of letters being sifted and those lucky children got their wishes either in the studio at the concrete donut in White City or captured on VT for play-out on the programme.  The red-ribboned 'Jim'll Fix It' badge was worn proudly by all kids following it's fish out of that fantastic chair with drawers, hatches and cubby-holes built in, and award from either Jim or the appropriately involved celebrities.

Jim has always been a keen athlete - he has been a wrestler, cyclist and mountain climber, and has been widely known for donning gold jogging suits to take part in the London Marathon raising thousands of pounds for charity.  After his involvement in Radio 1 came to an end, he, like many of his colleagues took a step into GOLD commercial radio, taking with him 'Savile's Travels' which was syndicated across the country.

Whereabouts: Sir Jim has held his knighthood for many years now, but his radio work is minimal if not non-existent as far as is known, possibly due to health problems.  However, he is believed to still like his famous cigars, jump suits and jewellery and has recently been lampooned by Alistair McGowan on BBCTV in a skit based on the highly offensive rapper Eminem and as a date on StreetDate, another skit, this time on Davina McCall's StreetMate TV show.  He lives in a spacious apartment overlooking Leeds.

Jim is still a star in the radio world!

TRACKER HOME PAGE                                                      

AIRCHECK HOME PAGE

1