UK & World News

  • 29 October 2011, 21:23

Veteran Star Sir Jimmy Savile Dies Aged 84

Veteran broadcaster and charity campaigner Sir Jimmy Savile has died at his home in Leeds.

He would have celebrated his 85th birthday on Monday.

Police found his body when they were called to his home at 12.10pm on Saturday. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

Born in Leeds in 1926, the youngest of seven children, Savile is perhaps best-known for the wildly successful 70s TV series Jim'll Fix It.

Thousands of children would write into the show in the hope of having their wishes granted.

Sir Jimmy was widely regarded as Britain's first ever celebrity DJ, fronting the original series of Top Of The Pops. He was invited back to present the final show in 2006 with former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read.

"He was an exceptional character in a world that's got greyer, more normal, more dull," Mr Read told Sky News.

"He was a one off. He was the first to go into halls and clubs and play records.

"You knew it was Jimmy, he stood out in the crowd. He was pure, pure showbiz."

Another former DJ-ing colleague, Tony Blackburn, told Sky News nobody ever got close to the "real" man.

"He was just a big, over-the-top personality. He was just great fun. He was an unusual person, a one off."

Savile's distinctive style and catchphrases endeared him to the British public, whose support enabled him to reportedly raise over 40m for charity over the course of his career.

He was awarded an OBE in 1972 and was knighted by the Queen in 1990 for his charity work.

In 2009 he received an honorary degree from the University of Bedfordshire for his support of the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury.

A notoriously private man, Savile never married and very little is known about his personal life.

However, in 2000 he was the subject of a Louis Theroux documentary which revealed something of his life, including his closeness to his mother who he affectionately called "The Duchess".

Mr Theroux said he is "deeply saddened" by the news, describing the Yorkshireman as a "professional enigma".

"He lived his life according to his maxim, often uttered, 'If it ain't a game it's a shame'.He loved to entertain, to dazzle, and to joke.

"In an age of agents, PRs, and media handlers, he was completely the opposite, utterly free of showbiz airs. He was as far from being a diva as one could imagine.

"There won't be another one like him."

Friend and fellow DJ Dave Lee Travis has also paid tribute.

"For some unknown reason, with Jim, you couldn't anticipate that he wasn't going to be around anymore - he was such a powerful presence," he told Sky News.

"He was one of the first DJs that actually became a personality.

"He was a very larger-than-life character, and I think we're all going to be worse off without him around."

Jim'll Fix It ran for over 20 years and, at its peak, received 20,000 letters a week from eager children.

"Jimmy fixed it for me to fly with the Red Arrows in 1990," fan Rhys Appleton told Sky News.

"What a guy. Gave you all the time in the world. A genuinely nice man. Will be sadly missed."

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