Charles Graham - Farewell to eccentric British hero

Sir Jimmy Savile

Sir Jimmy Savile

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HE was too distant, too strange to be loved by the public like other national TV treasures.

But the late Sir Jimmy Savile, for all his eccentricities, deserves to be hugely respected.

Not so much because he was widely acknowledged as the world’s first disc jockey, nor even because he found fame and fortune in spite of a myriad social disadvantages.

Not even perhaps because he hosted a fondly-remembered programme which granted wishes to countless thousands of folk long before Noel’s Christmas Presents and umpteen other imitators.

(Who can though forget the cubs’ roller-coaster packed lunch trip nor, very movingly, a blind amateur composer hearing a symphony orchestra - conducted by former PM Ted Heath no less - play a piece she wrote but thought would never be performed).

No, for me the first thing that always sprang to mind at the mention of Sir Jim’s name was his charity work.

Rather like another late but peculiarly unlovable public figure, Jeremy Beadle, Savile threw his heart and soul into projects long before other celebrities were associating themselves with good causes.

He raised colossal amounts, not least through his marathon-running, for Stoke Manderville Hospital alone. It was work that fixed it for far more than those on his TV show.

One of the great and unique British oddballs.