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Coffee House

Censor’s black pencil hovers over BBC’s Jimmy Savile review transcripts

22 February 2013

12:12 PM

22 February 2013

12:12 PM

The BBC has released its (redacted) transcripts and other evidence from the Pollard Review, which examined the decision to drop Newsnight’s Jimmy Savile investigation. There are thousands of pages of evidence, which you can read here, some with large sections which have fallen foul to the censor’s black pencil, even though Jeremy Paxman in particular had made clear that he wanted his interview transcript published in full.

We’ll bring you further details of the key transcripts throughout the afternoon, but one of the interesting observations from Paxman’s transcript is this on the effect of pared-down resources on Newsnight:

‘Newsnight, particularly in view of the – of the huge resource cuts that have gone on, it is a particularly grinding, gruelling job, because it is every day, and every day, you are making judgements which are either for that night’s transmission or for next week’s transmission, if it is the case of a film, for example, or the week after or the week after that. And resources have been pared so much that editors who previously had perhaps a bit of latitude or leisure to make considered judgments very often do not have that space any longer.’

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Paxman also told his interviewers that it was ‘common gossip that Jimmy Savile liked, you know, young – it was always assumed to be girls’.

On p69, Paxman is recorded as dismissing the programme’s ‘successful year’ in 2011, when it won the ‘programme of the year’ at the RTS awards:

‘Oh come along! You of all people in this – you should know how those things are worked out. I mean we didn’t – I did not feel…

‘It was a really unhelpful thing to have happened to the programme, that actually, to be able to boast – even if it is a rather pointless sort of award, to be able to boast that you have won some award for programme of the year [REDACTED] a feeling – I mean when I say ‘universal’, I do mean universal too. To have been given such a gong was not really terribly helpful, nor did it seem to be based upon any particularly informed judgement.’

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