Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
UPDATE: The Metropolitan Police has told the BBC it can begin its investigations into the culture and practices at the broadcaster during the time that late TV host Jimmy Savile is alleged to have sexually abused minors. Amid controversy over whether the BBC may have turned a blind eye to Savile’s alleged behavior, the corporation this week appointed independent reviewers to lead the inquiries, but said it would start only when authorities were ready. The police dubbed its own investigation into alleged exploitation by Savile and others, Operation Yewtree, and today says the case has become a formal criminal investigation. The Met says it has now assessed more than 400 lines of inquiry and identified over 200 potential victims. Not all the strands are tied to Savile, however. Without elaborating, the police said it has also established lines of inquiry involving living people that require formal investigation.
PREVIOUS: New BBC director general George Entwistle is to give evidence before a parliamentary committee next week over the BBC’s handling of the allegations against the former Top Of The Pops host Savile. At the same time, the BBC has been doing some juggling amid the recent controversy. Scheduling changes have been made “in the light of sensitivities surrounding recent events,” The Independent reports and talk shows have avoided the subject while “Chinese walls” have been erected over a planned segment on the Savile matter by BBC1’s investigative current affairs show Panorama.
Entwistle will face questioning on Tuesday over the BBC’s reviews of the situation, its handling of the matter at the time the abuse is said to have taken place and future policies on harassment. Before that, Entwistle may factor into a piece by Panorama, which is expected to look into what senior executives knew about a BBC Newsnight segment on police probes into the Savile allegations that was shelved last December. Entwistle has said he supported the decision to spike the Newsnight piece and that it was made “honestly and honorably” within editorial guidelines. Complicating matters, the Panorama team is understood to be aiming for the segment to air Monday night, ahead of Entwistle’s appearance before Parliament, The Guardian reports. Although “Chinese walls” between those with knowledge of Panorama‘s contents and those without have reportedly gone up at the BBC, the newspaper notes that former Newsnight producer Meiron Jones is now at Panorama “and will be able to draw on his own knowledge of the Savile affair and the fate of the Newsnight report.”
Meanwhile, the BBC’s usually uncompromising topical news panel shows, including Have I Got News For You and Radio 4’s The News Quiz have been strangely neutered in their response to the story, glossing over it at best. Also, repeat episodes of Top Of The Pops in which Savile appears have been ditched along with an episode of documentary series The Story Of Light Entertainment, in which Savile features. The planned repeat of the documentary Girl Model, which follows a 13-year-old girl’s journey from Siberia to Tokyo to become a model, was also pulled.