Late Obituaries

Category: TV Presenters

Sir Jimmy Savile

31 October 1926 – 29 October 2011

British television presenter, disc jockey and charity fundraiser whose perennial weirdness and eccentricity took on new meaning when he was posthumously revealed as perhaps the most prolific sex criminal in British history. A Bevin boy in World War II, Savile came to fame as a nightclub disc jockey, claiming to invent the first twin-table record player, and worked for Radio Luxembourg and for decades on BBC Radio 1. One of the BBC’s biggest stars he presented pioneering live music chart show Top of the Pops from 1964 and the children’s show Jim’ll Fix It from 1975-1994, where each week he arranged for the wishes of children (writing in to the show) to be fulfilled. Noted for his Yorkshire accent, catchphrases, hairstyle, preference for grotesque shell suits, tinted glasses, jewellery and cigars, and friendship with Margaret Thatcher, Savile was the subject of much parody and ridicule throughout his life for his general weirdness and blowhard accounts of his professional and personal achievements. He was still revered for his charitable efforts, having raised millions for various hospitals, and was knighted in 1990. Savile died in 2011, aged 84, from natural causes. His obscene sexual preferences were rumoured throughout his life, but never proven. After his death, the extent of his depravity was revealed by a series of horrifying victim revelations and official investigations which confirmed Savile had sexually abused and raped hundreds of children and women throughout his life, with his celebrity status allowing him to escape accusations.

Richard Whiteley

28 December 1943 – 26 June 2005

British television presenter and journalist who served as the jovial, self-deprecating, garishly-dressed, pun-loving host of the much-loved letters and numbers puzzle-based tea-time game show Countdown for 23 years, from its inception in 1982, till his death in 2005. A fixture of local journalism in Yorkshire, Whiteley co-presented the magazine show Calendar from 1968 till 1995, where his reporting, including during the miners’ strike, was well respected. His work on the show is chiefly remembered, though, for a live piece where his finger was bitten by a ferret. But it was his mild-mannered compèring of Countdown, alongside Carol Vorderman, that made him a nationally loved star. It meant he was the first face to appear on the newly launched Channel 4, and the ‘twice nightly’ broadcasts of Countdown and Calendar saw him clock up over 10,000 TV hours, a number bettered only by Carol Hersee, the Test Card girl. He received an OBE in 2004, before dying the following year, aged 61, from pneumonia developed following a heart operation.