Jim can't fix it any more: veteran British broadcaster dies

29th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Jimmy Savile, a veteran British broadcaster famed for his jangling jewellery, garish tracksuits and huge cigars, died on Saturday aged 84, police and his family said.

Platinum-haired Savile was one of the biggest stars on British radio and television from the 1960s to the 1980s and also raised huge sums for charity, while preserving an enigmatic private life.

His death came after he reportedly spent a spell in hospital earlier this month with suspected pneumonia.

Outside Savile's flat in Leeds, northern England, his nephew Roger Foster said he would be "sadly missed by many people."

"Jimmy was a wonderful man, his public face is well known but we knew him as much more than an uncle, he was a very good friend," Foster said.

West Yorkshire Police said they had been called to a house in Leeds and found the body of a man in his 80s, adding that there were "no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death."

Savile started out as a coal miner in Yorkshire, where he was born in 1926, the youngest of seven children. But injuries sustained during an underground explosion forced him out of mining and he went on to work as a club and radio DJ.

In 1964 he became the first presenter of "Top of the Pops", Britain's top television chart show. Savile presented the prime-time programme throughout the 1960s and 1970s and returned for the programme's final edition in 2006.

Many Britons also remember him fondly for his long-running television show "Jim'll Fix It", where he made the modest dreams of young viewers come true each week before presenting them with a big red badge.

In one classic clip Savile arranged for a group of Cub Scouts to eat a packed lunch of sandwiches and juice on board a roller-coaster, with predictably messy results.

The show ran on the BBC from 1975 to 1994.

His catchphrases including "Now then, now then boys and girls" and "How's about that then?" were recited across playgrounds in Britain at the time.

In his later years, the eccentric bachelor committed himself to charity, running 200 marathons and raising a reported £40 million for good causes, including a large amount for a hospital for spinal injury patients.

He was knighted for his charitable work in 1990.

But in a series of interviews in later life he revealed a somewhat lonely lifestyle, living in a flat with suede-lined walls that had been preserved as a shrine to his late mother, completed with a wardrobe of all her clothes.

He also claimed he had never been in love.

In a radio interview with a psychologist he said when asked about his feelings: "I haven't got any emotions ... Feelings aren't logic."

But he struck up a rapport with Britain's royal family and was reportedly used as an intermediary during the troubled marriage of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.

A spokesman for Clarence House, the office of Prince Charles and his second wife Camilla, said they were "saddened to hear of Jimmy Savile's death and their thoughts are with his family at this time."

BBC director general Mark Thompson also paid tribute.

"From Top Of The Pops to Jim'll Fix It, Jimmy's unique style entertained generations of BBC audiences. Like millions of viewers and listeners we shall miss him greatly," Thompson said.

© 2011 AFP

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