With pressure building on the BBC and senior staff working during the 70s and 80s to explain what they knew about Jimmy Savile sex abuse claims, a book by a top journalist reveals details of alleged paedophilia involving another children’s broadcasting star at the corporation.
Working as a fledgling hack in the late 1960s, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson was tasked with reporting the death of a former BBC children’s entertainer – given the pseudonym ‘Uncle Dick’ in his book Strange Places Questionable People.
Calling a former co-star for reaction to his passing, Simpson was shocked to hear Uncle Dick described as an “evil bastard”:
“Week after week, children from all over the country would win competitions to visit the BBC and meet Uncle Dick. He would welcome them, show them round, give them lunch, and then take them to the Gents and interfere with them.”
“If their parents complained afterwards, she said the Director-General’s office would write and say the nation wouldn’t understand such an accusation against a much loved figure.”
Relating this discovery to his editor, Simpson was then admonished for being a “destructive young idiot” before a full scale newsroom cover up was orchestrated. The copy written up for newsreaders read as follows:
Uncle Dick’s partner for many years — Auntie Gladys — told the BBC that she was deeply saddened by his death. She said “He had a wonderful way with children.”
As with the fawning tribute to Jimmy Savile broadcast after his death in 2011, BBC managers wouldn’t allow serious allegations of child abuse to tarnish the reputation of one of their stars.
Some things never change …