NATIONAL TREASURE. (2016) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

NATIONAL TREASURE. (2016) BASED ON OPERATION YEWTREE. DIRECTED BY MARC MUNDEN.

STARRING ROBBIE COLTRANE, JULIE WALTERS, TIM MCINNERNY, KATE HARDIE, SUSAN LYNCH AND ANDREA RISEBOROUGH.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I really enjoyed this sex crime courtroom drama TV series, although it made me feel sick as times, based as it is on the police investigation into Jimmy Savile, which dredged up a fair few other little fishies in its net as well.

Robbie Coltrane (HARRY POTTER, CRACKER, FROM HELL with Johnny Depp) is superb as ageing comedian and television star, Paul Finchley. He’d be cast in the same mould as some real life comedians like, say, Bruce Forsythe, Les Dawson and the like. Paul’s star is now on the wane, and his TV duties have dwindled to presenting- we’ll assume- a fairly crappy, if popular, daytime quiz show called Smuggle.

When we meet him, he’s presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to his own former comedy partner, Sir Karl Jenkins, an event which sticks in his craw more than he lets on to the people around him. After twenty or thirty years at the top of his telly game, Paul Finchley is now washed-up, a has-bean, old hat, a Z-list celebrity, while sycophants and his close friends presumably make sure to keep telling him he’s ‘a national treasure.’

It’s at this point that Paul is charged with raping a woman called Rebecca Thornton in the ‘Nineties, over twenty years ago. When this becomes known, several more women come forward with similar allegations, although some of these subsequently fade away again and only two end up coming to court. The woman with the first complaint, a one-time fan-girl of Finchley’s, and Christina Farnborough, the Finchleys’ former babysitter.

‘They think I’m Jimmy fucking Savile,’ Paul groans at one point.

No doubt the men whose names were on the cops’ hit-list after the revelations about Jimmy Savile felt, as Paul Finchley did, that they were the victims of a witch-hunt, but there does seem to have been a culture of ‘big stars get everything they want’ in the TV stations back in the day. Women were disposable and not as important as the big- male- stars of the day, and how they felt about things didn’t really come into it at all.

The series goes to great lengths to show us the affects of these allegations on the Finchley family. Finchley himself is shell-shocked, but steadily maintains his innocence. His and his wife Marie’s adult daughter, Dee, was a mess to begin with.

She lives in a halfway-house for women with drug and addiction problems. Her two children live with their dad at the moment, and there’s some suggestion that she may lose them to him for good if she can’t get her act together.

We keep seeing flashbacks of her and her dad together in her childhood, and Dee seems to be trying to remember whether or not he sexually abused her. Her mum, Marie, warns her at one point not to ‘go there,’ as they have enough troubles to be going on with.

A word about Marie, brilliantly played by Julie Walters. Marie is outwardly the perfect wife and mother, devoted to her family and standing by her man all the way. She’s doing that thing where she’s supporting Paul in public, and going to court with him and everything, but looking daggers at him in private, banning him from the marital bed and acting like he’s, well, Jimmy Savile, and like he’s disgraced and shamed the family.

She’s had this one-sided arrangement with Paul all their married life, an arrangement which suits only Paul, which is why I call it one-sided. He is a serial philanderer/adulterer, addicted to having affairs and one-night-stands. Even now, in his mid-sixties and walking with a cane, he has sex with prostitutes.

The arrangement is this. As Marie is unable to stop him from straying, he can sleep around as much as he likes, as long as he’s honest about it and tells her about it. She then ‘forgives’ him, but I bet he’s had to pay for his sins with holidays and new kitchens and bathrooms and designer wardrobes over the years. Carmela Soprano in THE SOPRANOS received plenty of such ‘guilt gifts’ throughout the course of her marriage to mob boss, Tony Soprano, in the hit HBO TV series of the same name.

It’s a most unsatisfactory arrangement. Marie’s soul-destroyed by all the cheating, so much so that she’s thinking of seeking consolation with Paul’s old comedy partner, Tim McInnerny as Karl, who’s always fancied her. Whatever happens, whether Paul is found guilty or not guilty, it doesn’t look like he’ll have much of a marriage to come back to.

The two women accusing Paul of rape are treated shabbily in court, as you might except. Even in real life, women like this are frequently seen as gold-diggers. Oh, the man’s rich and famous, eh? Well, then, obviously this bird’s after a nice big pay-out, whether through the courts or for selling her story to the newspapers!

This is a terrific drama, well acted and very of the moment, what with all the accusations of sexual misconduct flying around the globe today. Every month, someone new seems to get ‘cancelled’ for political incorrectness or charged with actual sexual abuse of people they encountered- or targeted- in the course of their successful careers. It’s a depressing thing to think about. Great drama, though. Watch it if you can.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY. (2000) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY. (2000) A TV SPECIAL DIRECTED BY WILL YAPP. WRITTEN BY LOUIS THEROUX. FEATURING LOUIS THEROUX AND JIMMY SAVILE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Louis Theroux spends a week with the eccentric broadcaster and charity fundraiser Sir Jimmy Savile and attempts to get behind the public persona.’

I recently watched and reviewed LOUIS THEROUX: SAVILE. As it referenced WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY several times, and as the later film was a kind of reaction by the documentary-maker Theroux to the flood of accusations of sexual abuse that emerged after Savile’s death in 2011, I decided that I needed to watch the 2000 film also. Now, they seem to fit together perfectly as a sort of Louis Theroux’s before-and-after take on the Jimmy Savile story, so watch them together if you can.

As the blurb says, the talented young film-maker Louis Theroux spends a week in Savile’s company as the now-disgraced TV star Jimmy Savile supposedly goes about his everyday business.

This includes going to the launch of a charity cruise aboard the ship CARONIA, going to a restaurant where everybody knows Savile and visiting Savile’s holiday home in the Scottish Highlands, where the former DJ accidentally breaks an ankle during a spot of mountaineering.

More interesting than the changing locations- though the Scottish Highlands are gorgeous- is the dynamic between the young film-maker and the crabbed old TV star who was well on his way to being all washed-up in the year 2000. I wonder if he was aware of this, or if he actually still thought he was da bomb.

We were right on the cusp of the reality TV/Big Brother/Pop Idols and X Factor/social media era back then, and the kids only wanted to see young, attractive-looking people on their screens, people like Cheryl Cole, Davina McCall, Rihanna, Beyonce, Shayne Ward and Nicole Sherzinger, not a withered old has-been with an abrasive manner and a mother fixation to rival Norman Bates’s.

(Did Louis look remotely comfortable about sleeping alone in ‘the Duchess’s’ neatly preserved bed? Did ‘e ‘eck as like, as Vera Duckworth might have said. (The actress Liz Dawn is seen briefly attending the launch of the charity cruise.) I wouldn’t sleep in it myself, that’s for sure. Not that I’m ever likely to be invited.)

What’s extraordinary about this film is the horrible manner Savile displays towards Louis and his questions. Jimmy was using his patter to deflect my questions, the broadcaster says at one point, and he’s right.

Savile is always ‘on,’ always talking shite at top speed, always bullshitting, always cracking bad jokes, showing off or dispensing useless pieces of ‘homespun wisdom’ on how Louis might ‘improve’ his interview technique.

There’s nothing wrong with Louis Theroux’s interview technique. It’s Savile’s inherent inability to answer a straight question with a straight answer that’s the problem here. He’s impossible to pin down.

He bites Louis’ head off for questioning a cache of booze he finds in the supposed teetotaller’s flat. He constantly evades the question of romance by saying that women give him ‘brain damage,’ and that’s why he never married or had a steady girlfriend, allegedly.

When he hurts his foot in the Scottish Highlands, he phones the local papers to film him having his plaster put on in the local hospital. What a narcissist. Louis points out that, when a normal person has an accident, they phone for friends or family to come. Jimmy Savile phones the media.

Obviously, he was desperate to keep his face and name in the papers. Maybe he was aware after all that his star, luminescent for so many years in the world of TV and radio, not to mention his charity fundraising, was finally beginning to lose its glow.

I can get anything, me, Savile tells Louis mysteriously at one point, when Louis wonders aloud how his ex-directory address and phone number have ended up in Savile’s address book. It’s because I didn’t know who you were, so it’s just in case I had to send any Sicilian gentlemen around to have a little chat with you, Savile adds, or words to that general effect.

Savile is caught unawares at one point, telling the cameraman after Louis has gone to bed all about how he used to treat messers at his clubs, back when he used to run nightclubs in Leeds in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

There’s talk of tying guys up in the club basements till the club was shut, and, even though Savile doesn’t mention giving them a few digs before sending them on their way, I personally feel like it might be implied.

When Louis later quizzes him about this, Savile backtracks and says it was all ‘only a figure of speech,’ like when you say to someone, I’ll kill you for doing that! Figure of speech my ass.

I invented zero tolerance, me, boasts the white-haired former celebrity at one point. Sadly, his victims were usually too young and vulnerable to implement the ‘zero tolerance’ policy against Savile himself, who would have needed it applied against him more than most.

Theroux manages to squeeze in a couple of questions about the all-important paedophilia issue. Is he or is he not a paedophile? He might be or he might not be, how would anyone ever know, Savile says in reply. He knows he’s not, and that’s all that counts.

But he tells the press that he ‘hates children,’ he confides next, and that’s how you put the more ‘salacious’ members of the press ‘off the scent,’ you see. Well, that doesn’t sound dodgy at all, does it, folks? Then Savile yawns a huge fake yawn as if to say, subject closed…

Here are some words I’d use to describe Savile’s personality after watching this film. Prickly. Hostile. Aggressive. Passive-aggressive. Arrogant. Secretive. Evasive. Entitled. Privileged. An abuser of his power. A nasty piece of work. Defensive. Obnoxious. Volatile. Odious. Creepy. Someone who could turn nasty in a flash. Show-off. Show-boater. Grand-stander. Menacing. Threatening. A boaster. A bully. Always ‘on.’ Over-confident. Considers himself ‘untouchable.’ They’re not nice words, are they?

If even a grown man like Louis Theroux could feel a bit on edge around this man, and sense the aura of power and privilege that still emanates from him, and Louis is a big powerful-looking bloke, then how rail-roaded into having sexual relations with Savile must those innocent youngsters he abused have felt? It hardly bears thinking about.

I have only one further observation. Watching this documentary made me feel uncomfortable, not only because of what we now know about Savile, but also because the two men don’t really seem to be the friends they claim they were after this film was made.

Louis himself admits he found Savile ‘irritating,’ which I can fully understand, and Savile seems to completely resent the intrusion into his private life, even though he gave his consent for the film to be made. Try to watch this fascinating documentary if you can. If you’re a psychologist, even just an armchair one, or an interpreter of body language, you’ll have a bloody field day.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

LOUIS THEROUX: SAVILE. (2016) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


LOUIS THEROUX: SAVILE. (2016) STARRING LOUIS THEROUX.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I watched this seventy-five-minute documentary on Netflix at the weekend and found it fascinating. It’s a kind of a follow-up, if you like, to the film made by investigative journalist and broadcaster Louis Theroux in 2000, WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY, only now the pair aren’t on chummy, palsy-walsy first name terms any more. Oh no.

Now, Louis refers to the disgraced DJ and broadcaster only by his surname, and talks openly about how he was ‘taken in’ by the consummate liar and performer that was the former BBC star Jimmy Savile. As he- Savile- had been dogged by rumours of paedophilia even during his lifetime, Louis did bring the subject up lightly with him in the 2000 film, only to be told categorically by the ‘celebrity’ that the rumours were untrue.

Savile’s reputation lies in ruins today after numerous accusations of rape, sexual abuse and sexual assault were levelled at him after his death in 2011 at the age of eighty-four. Both his grave and his former home have been vandalised. His name is mud. Louis, quite understandably, wants to distance himself from the ‘friendship’ with Savile that a lot of people probably found quite bizarre in the first place.

We are shown clips of ‘When Louis Met Jimmy’ in this later film. Shades of Norman Bates, I feel, when Savile takes us on a tour of his deceased mother’s bedroom, preserved exactly as she kept it in life. He still calls her ‘the Duchess,’ and has all her clothes dry-cleaned once a year to ‘keep ‘em fresh.’ Louis, as a favoured ‘friend,’ is permitted to sleep overnight in ‘the Duchess’s’ room during the course of making the documentary. I find that whole thing a bit creepy.

It seems to have been common knowledge in his own lifetime that Jimmy Savile, who was a coal-miner, a wrestler and the owner of nightclubs in the north of England before he shot to fame as a DJ on Radio Luxembourg, liked young girls. Really young girls, even as young as twelve and thirteen. People talked and laughed about it openly at the time, apparently. It doesn’t seem to have raised too many eyebrows back then, unfortunately for the girls, in many cases still children, who were abused.

When Savile worked on TOP OF THE POPS as a presenter, he’d apparently pluck young girls out of the audience and have sex with them in his dressing-room, or sexually assault them, as seems more likely from what we’ve been told. He had an instinct for honing in on girls who were vulnerable, friendless, lonely, penniless, or who were having trouble at home or were being abused at home.

Some of the now middle-aged women who speak to Louis Theroux in this film had been abused by relatives prior to meeting Jimmy Savile. They thought it was ‘expected’ of them to give Savile what he demanded when he’d come to their boarding school for troubled young runaway females in the ‘Seventies. (He practically had the run of the place; imagine…!)

Bribing the girls with cigarettes, a spin in his Rolls-Royce and promises of being allowed to appear on Savile’s television shows on the BBC guaranteed the ‘star’ a grope, a blow-job, hand relief and sometimes full sex in the back of the Roller. He didn’t do foreplay, finesse or feelings. It was just a quick in-and-out job, tongue in the girl’s mouth, grab her breasts and then the hand up the skirt. Let your Uncle Jimmy have a feel, that’s a good girl…

Why didn’t the girls report him? Well, they figured, who would have believed them? They were, essentially, girls in the care of the state, and he was Jimmy Savile, OBE, a national treasure, star of the BBC television and radio airwaves, who, in his lifetime, raised about forty million euros for charity. The Spinal Centre at Stoke Mandeville came about because of his tireless charity work and his sponsored marathon running. He was knighted for his charity work in 1990.

He was the darling of old ladies and kids everywhere, a sort of ‘god-like’ figure who was untouchable when it came to rumours of improprieties and other grumblings. He was pictured with such dignitaries as Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and even the Pope. Who wouldn’t be nervous about reporting a guy like that to the authorities, who would be bound to take Savile’s side?

Some women even admit they were afraid of him, and I don’t blame them. I personally reckon that there was a very nasty streak behind the affable, genial, chatty jokey front he kept up the whole time. Watch the bit where, unaware that the camera is still filming, the eccentric showbiz ‘star’ tells us what he used to do to ‘messers’ in his clubs back in the day. It seems excessive and scary to me.

And just watch him say cockily, ‘I can get anything, me,’ when Louis queries how come Savile has his home address which was supposed to be ex-directory. Another girl, who’d given birth secretly as a teenager in the ‘Seventies just before she met Savile, has the distinct feeling that he’d seen her health records prior to seeking her out. ‘You’ve been a naughty girl with your boyfriend, haven’t you?’

That, seemingly, is how he got away with everything for so long. He was more or less King Jimmy, King of the BBC, the presenter of such iconic shows as JIM’LL FIX IT and TOP OF THE POPS.

In his trademark brightly-coloured shell-suits, big plastic glasses and with a fat cigar always clamped between his discoloured and rotting teeth, he was, for a while, the most recognisable man in Britain. Next to him, it’s no wonder the girls from the children’s home felt like nobodies, who wouldn’t be believed if they told on him and who might even get into trouble for so doing.

There are a couple of old dears in this 2016 documentary who have trouble believing that Savile was the monster he’s been made out to be. One lady has worked in the Spinal Centre built by Jimmy’s fund-raising for fifty years, and the other is his long-time secretary, Janet Cope. Even though Savile sacked her without warning in 2001 after thirty-two years of faithful service, she still remains loyal-ish to his memory, appearing doubtful when Louis gives her an example of the many instances of abuse.

Ah well. To them, the ugly little gnome-like man with the shock of white hair and non-stop attention-seeking stream of ‘look at me!’ patter was their hero. Girls today would probably look askance at a picture of him and make vomiting noises at the thought of being made to touch someone so physically repulsive, someone who wore a string vest and revealing shorts at the age of seventy-four to visit Louis Theroux’s office in WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY. It feels like everyone who knew him back then knew what he was up to, but no-one did anything about it. Thank God things have changed a bit since then.       

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: