I feel devastated, disgusted and betrayed. After hearing the news that TV and radio icon Stuart Hall has admitted to assaulting thirteen girls between the ages of nine and seventeen I feel utterly, utterly sick to the very pit of my stomach. I physically wanted to wretch. I feel like vomiting. I’m absolutely stunned by the news. Stuart Hall was an icon to so many of us growing up in the UK in the seventies and eighties. A superb wit, a superlative broadcaster with a superb gift for comedy. I loved the man, as so many of us did back then. To hear that Stuart Hall was an ‘opportunistic predator’ of young girls in many ways destroys my own conception of my younger and teenage years. What icons we had! First Jimmy Savile, a British institution no less, and now Stuart Hall. I feel like a little part of me has been ripped out and spat on.
What makes things even worse is the fact that it is not only Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall, who seemingly did (ironically) so much for charity, but it is a long list of media stars who join them on the deviant roll call of shame. It now turns out that Hall is the eleventh person who is being investigated under Operation Yewtree which seeks to uncover the nasty truth about all the dark deeds of Jimmy Savile et al. The roll call of shame makes morbid, disturbing reading. Along with the now deceased Savile we find sex offender, seventies glam pop star Gary Glitter, comedian Freddie Starr, radio DJ and icon Dave Lee Travis, comedian Jim Davison and (according to the BBC) entertainer Rolf Harris, who were all arrested as part of Operation Yewtree. Every single one of these people were truly ‘big names’ in my formative years.
As well as the numerous counts of assault, abuse and rape from this collection of ‘stars’, there are two questions that keep popping into my head. Firstly, how the hell could have this gone unnoticed? Hall is said to have assaulted thirteen girls from 1968 to 1986. Savile seems truly villainous in that there are said to have been 589 victims across four decades. Surely, some of these victims asked for help. Why has it taken so long to bring these ‘stars’ to justice? Why didn’t any one help? Secondly, what part did the BBC play in all this? Operation Yewtree has already seen several prominent BBC employees been arrested (not including the stars, of course).
So not only have several major British media stars been arrested on charges of assault, abuse and rape but the major British institution itself, the BBC, has a lot to answer for. A shadow has been cast on the reputation of dear old Auntie Beeb that I’m afraid will never go away. Many of us feel demoralised and disgusted but, for me, the feeling of betrayal is the hardest to take. I feel betrayed because as a child I trusted Savile, Hall, Starr, Davidson and Lee Travis. They were on my side, weren’t they? They were with us on TV, at home, over dinner, over tea. We trusted them. We trusted the BBC. And it’s all gone. That past has been mangled, warped and destroyed. I’ll never be able to look back with fondness because I’ll still have a bitter taste in the back of my throat.