Now then, now then
Having started playing records in dance halls in the early 1940s, Savile claims to be the first ever DJ; according to his autobiography, the first person to use two turntables and a microphone, which he did at the Grand Records Ball at the Guardbridge Hotel in 1947. Savile is widely acknowledged as being one of the first in England and the world to use twin turntables for continuous play of music, thus pioneering the concept of DJing as we know it today, though this claim has been disputed: twin turntables were illustrated in the BBC Handbook in 1929, and were advertised for sale in Gramophone magazine as early as 1931.
One of the UK’s most recognisable personalities, aside from his TV and radio work, Savile has carried out a considerable amount of charity work (although he never talked about it), including raising money for the Stoke Mandeville Hospital where he worked for many years as a volunteer porter. He raised money for the Spinal Unit, NSIC. (National Spinal Injuries Center). Savile raised money for St Francis Ward – a ward for children and teens with Spinal Cord Injuries. For years, he was the honorary president of Phab (a charity dedicated to the integration of the Physically Handicapped in the Able Bodied community) and has helped raise over £40,000,000.
He also sponsors medical students at the University of Leeds to to perform undergraduate research, donating over £60,000 every year. In 2010 the scheme was extended with a commitment of £500,000 over the following five years.
Savile was also well known for running marathons (many of them again for Phab, including their annual half marathon around Hyde Park). He also completed the London Marathon in 2005.
To me, however, he was the face of Top of the Pops throughout my teenage years and his association with this programme spanned a total of 42 years. On New Year’s Day, 1964, he presented the first ever edition of the show from a television studio – a converted church – in Dickenson Road in Rusholme, Manchester (now demolished). And on 30 July 2006 he also co-hosted the final edition, ending the show with the words “It’s number one, it’s still Top of the Pops”, before being shown turning off the studio lights after the closing credits.
He has a bench in memory of himself with the words ‘Jimmy Savile – but not just yet!’ engraved on it, in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. I hope that someone will “fix it for him” to have that engraving updated with the words “How’s about that then?”.