If Esther Rantzen knew Jimmy Saville was a paedophile…
Hello Esther Rantzen, we’re talking direct to you today. Hi! Remember Childline? We do. We never had to use it, but we always screamed at our parents “we’re calling childline” when we were told to go to our bedroom for being naughty. Not that they ever listened, we’d used the threat so many times.
To be honest, we always found you a bit creepy, Esther. All those teeth. And That’s Life, really, was just fucking strange. There you were, a grown-up person on TV, showing us turnips that looked like willies and dogs who can say sausages and yes, we laughed a little, but then we saw you, a grown-up with all those teeth, and we thought – shouldn’t she be doing something a little more grown-up? We’re the kids here. Why can’t adults all act like John Noakes? Nice, middle-aged men with dogs who act boring, like adults. Not women who show turnips that look like willies.
But then you did Childline and all of that changed. We thought – hey, not only is this something we can use against our parents when we’ve been naughty and they want to send us to bed early, but you’re actually doing something to help children who are being abused. So on the one hand, turnips that look like willies, on the other hand, you care about children really and you did something about it.
And now we find out that you kinda knew about Jimmy Saville but you never did anything about it, and everyone’s pointing the finger at you, the woman who set up Childline, saying “if you knew he was a paedophile…” – well, why didn’t you say something?
You say “it was the word of one girl against a word of a television icon” which implies that television icons can do what they want, so long as it’s just rumours. Lots of rumours. In fact, a lot of people seemed to know about it. We all suspected he was a bit weird – my mum always told me that he hated children and there was something shifty about him. Which is probably why I was never moved to ask Jim to fix anything for me.
But I was never moved to send in a turnip that looked like a willy because you were equally strange. And you both did a lot for charity, didn’t you. I’m beginning to see a lot of similarities here.
However, and this is a big however, we all seem to be blaming you for the massive cover-up at the BBC, and that’s a little unfair of us. Because ultimately, even if you were just like Jimmy Saville in the eyes of those watching TV (a little bit strange), you aren’t actually the Paedo-Finder General. Nobody appointed you to go around the country saying “YOU are a paedophile”.
You did a lot for us kids back in the 80s, and nobody actually appointed you to weed out the Paedos. It seems we’re just beating up on you because Jimmy’s not here to defend himself, and we need someone to blame.
We’re disappointed that you heard the rumours and did nothing, but you’re one of many who heard the rumours and did nothing. What of those in the green room who spread the rumours. What did they do? Nothing. What of those higher up in the BBC who suspected? They did the grand sum of fuck all, giving him series after series of Jim’ll Fix It.
There is nothing good about this whichever way you look at it, but we’re wrong to think that Esther Rantzen is responsible for outing every paedophile, alleged or otherwise. The cover-up, if that’s what it is, was cultural, and that’s what we can’t get our heads around. It wasn’t just one person, it was everyone who gossiped, everyone who suspected and did nothing. Everyone who heard the rumours and said “don’t mention them”. But we, the public, need a convenient scapegoat.
The truth is that we’re all partly responsible, for swallowing the story he spun about himself, and not questioning more. We let all of those children down for not listening and believing. Esther, you’re one of us, but don’t think that’s a good thing.