New BBC boss George Entwistle ties himself in knots over Jimmy Savile affair

New BBC director General George Entwistle has only been in the job a few weeks and already he’s proved pretty conclusively that he isn’t up to it.

Revelations in an ITV programme that one-time big BBC star Jimmy Savile (who died last year) had abused under-age girls in his dressing room at the BBC and on other BBC duties demanded a simple response: the BBC would launch an urgent investigation.

But Entwistle, after remaining silent for a few days (his first mistake) then surfaced to say that the Beeb would not launch an investigation because, as this was a criminal matter (possibly), it was the job of the police to investigate. The BBC would help.

Today on the Today programme he promised a “comprehensive examination” and said all “outstanding questions” would be addressed. But that’s not an investigation.

But the BBC, now that the doings of some its stars have been rumbled, has plenty to investigate that doesn’t necessarily involve the police. One, clearly, being that its studio dressing rooms have been used as a free-for-all knocking shop, regardless of the age of the participants.

Entwistle is on the spot here, doubly so because, as head of BBC Vision (the ultimate programme boss) he must have known of the decision to can a film his own Newsnight was planning to make about Savile’s predilections. The item seems to have been pulled because other bits of the Beeb were planning to make fulsome tributes to the just-deceased Savile (left) and his ‘charitable’ works.

There’s at least the possibility that Entwistle’s reign at the BBC will be exceedingly short and not very sweet.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.