Perhaps the worst thing about the spectacle of Sir Jimmy Savile’s horrendous, virtual resurrection is that we’ve only seen the start of it. Those endless, harrowing accounts from grown adults recalling the damage inflicted by the cigar-chomping, alleged psychopath are just the start of a likely cascade, unless the authorities are closing ranks more effectively than they let on.
Admittedly, at the time of writing, only panto-nonce Gary Glitter and trembling wreck, Freddie Starr (who you may remember from the 1970s if, like me, you’re old) have been arrested, in addition to a couple of dead-celeb names being thrown into the mix. If it stays that way and the investigation’s limited to flaked out or expired telly stars, I’m not sure the internet’s going to be too happy about it. From the bewildered chatterboxes at DigitalSpy via the furious mothers at Mumsnet, all the way to the presumed crazies over at David Icke’s site, there’ll be merry hell if the net remains uncast over some seriously big swimmers. Time will tell. In the meantime, if we can take it, we can spend our hours poring over footage from the era, watching haunted Top of the Pops reels and vaguely recalling other scandals that seem somehow linked to this sudden avalanche of nauseating horror. All whilst our minds try to cope with history curdling before our eyes, leaving a revolting stink.
It’s muddy water at the best of times, the aforementioned David Icke forum, but considering Icke outed Savile in the 90s, it seems the place to go if you’re looking for a bigger take on what the hell might be going on. There are a lot of passionate people on there, to put it mildly. Many won’t go there for fear of being infected with herpetaphobia what with Icke’s more far out claims. It’s also driven by wild speculation which can frequently throw up some absurd correlations. Personally, in theory, I think it’s fair enough to check out associations and google historical events to see how everything ties in. You have to speculate before working out where to dig, after all.
All the same, stumbling about there, especially on the Savile topic, is rather like being concussed in another dimension. Which is possibly precisely what it is. Handling that and brushing aside the frequent compulsion to take issue with unsavoury and occasionally downright infuriating tangents, there is a wealth of information on there that you’ll probably wished you’d never bumped into. And this is where Frank Bruno comes in.
In you come, Frank.
Full credit to the posters on the thread for unearthing a particularly unnerving 1993 episode of This Is Your Life on Youtube. Full credit also for making the observations I’ve expanded upon below. I watched the whole thing after reading about a number of eyebrow-affecting moments during its runtime, and felt compelled to write it all out of my system. It’s so ghoulish, a form of mini-therapy is required after the event.
The programme saw boxer Frank Bruno honoured with the big red book during Michael Aspel’s time as host.
We all remember, possibly with fondness, the ITV show which gave familiar faces a very public trip down memory lane. This was the era of light entertainment, before reality television came swinging like a battering ram directly into our faces on a nightly basis. There was no Who Do You Think You Are back then, oh no. Genealogy probably hadn’t even been invented yet.
With its new subtext, in light of all the current allegations, the arrests and the suspected depths this investigation may sink to, This Is Your Life becomes a portal into a completely different reality. If you start to analyse a couple of moments, you immediately want to stop. It becomes so grotesque it makes you wince, whether any internal speculations you entertain are justified or not. So that you don’t have to go through that process, here are some details, prised from within the Icke-zone and reinterpreted in plain English.
Before we start, probably best to remind ourselves that nobody in the show’s actually been found guilty of any offence at the time of writing. This is purely an exercise in rubbernecking on 90s telly with alarming rumours and allegations lurking in the background. Probably not the healthiest activity in the world, but hey ho.
Frank Bruno had already lived an incredible life by the time he appeared on the show. Starting his boxing career in 1982, he went on to win 40 out of 45 of his fights. In 1995, after this show aired, he won the WBC championship. But then, in 2003, it all began to fall apart. Bruno was taken ill in 2003, apparently suffering a breakdown. Only recently has he emerged back into the limelight, looking a little bit like he’d been through hell.
This Is Your Life was essentially a tribute to each weekly guest, with family, associates and work colleagues turning up to honour them. Unfortunately for Bruno, his episode will forever be tainted by the fact his old associates just happen to include Jimmy Savile and Freddie Starr. They probably won’t be playing it as a tribute when he curls his toes up.
Let’s have a look at those key moments. Drag the timer on Youtube over to the timecodes mentioned, and share in the weirdness. From the off, presenting the scarlet file, Aspel asks Bruno to ‘jump on my back and I’ll give you a ride down there’.
From that point in, we’re officially in la la land.
After the arrest of Gary Glitter last week, Freddie Starr was seized days after and is now out on bail. He’s the first to appear at Bruno’s party (2 minutes 15 seconds), looking like a dishevelled rooster in a tangerine suit. Frank – never the most composed man on earth and known for his gentle-giant presence – turns into a giggling schoolboy in the man’s company. From his entrance, there’s the sense Starr might be about to embarrass Bruno.
A moment later, he does just that.
‘Frank is one of the hardest people to buy a present for’ he says, addressing the audience like they’re the end-of-pier crowd.
‘You never bought me one though!’ Frank replies, chuckling like mad.
‘I did! I did – it was for Christmas. And do you remember, it was a Black & Decker?’
If you’re unfamiliar with the innuendo there (I was too), it turns out ‘Black & Decker’ is a euphemism for a willy. Presumably a black man’s willy. There’s a report out there in internet-land where Bruno defends himself against an accusation of wife-beating using the term himself.
‘My mum’s here. Don’t talk about that. Pass on that one Freddie, cool down’ Frank says, laughing at the in-joke.
‘…But it broke down’ Starr continues, possibly referring to a specific event. Unless he’s still joking. If he is, we don’t really get to a punchline.
‘The Black & Decker?’ Frank asks, trying to recall.
‘It was alright on holiday though!’ Frank says.
‘It was on turbo, mate!’
Freddie seems to know what Frank’s talking about. It’s quite grim. Unless it’s all perfectly innocent. The news is so Savile-saturated, it’s now impossible to discern between the perfectly innocent and the potentially depraved.
‘Is this a private joke of some kind?’ Aspel asks and, thankfully, the moment has gone. Things pass without incident for a little while, but before the show ends, there are two turns that don’t half make you wonder.
Fellow official ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, Phil Collins appears at 19 minutes to offer a video tribute to Bruno. It’s not surprising he didn’t show up for the occasion – this is a man who allegedly asked his wife for a divorce by fax machine.
During his speech, Collins says: ‘…what a lot of people don’t know is the fantastic work you do for charity and particularly with the Prince’s Trust. So on behalf of me and my fellow trustees and everybody at the Prince’s Trust and also all the kids whose lives you’ve touched – just through being there and showing that you care about them – thank you very much’
It looks like a heartfelt statement, but did you see Phil’s eyes when he said ‘kids whose lives you’ve touched’?
Was it just me?
And just as that leaves a sour taste, who should come onstage but the media’s current favourite horror story, Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile. Another Prince’s Trust Man who, at 19 minutes 50 seconds, decides to drop his trousers on national television. A few years ago we might’ve thought: ‘Ah, that’s just Jimmy!’ But now we run away, heading for the hills, screaming.
But, let’s go back. What’s that? What’s Frank been saying? Jimmy tells us…
‘Now listen! Underneath this… drab exterior’
He’s pulling at his trousers. The groin area of his trousers.
‘It ain’t a White & Decker is it?’ asks a giggling Bruno.
Have Starr, Bruno and Savile been on holiday together? A Black & White & Decker holiday? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Savile refers to how Frank calls him chicken-legs. He says he wants to be called turkey-legs. It’s clear Savile expects his gag to be a massive laugh-fest, but it falls so flat it leaves the room drowning in tumbleweed. Even weirder, off on a tangent and at Savile’s funeral, Bruno apparently said of the Fixer: ‘I called him Sir Chicken Legs. Stephen Purdew said I could call him Chicken Legs’.
Stephen Purdew – from Champneys. Sounds like they have some real parties in the Hertfordshire health spa! I wonder if Phil Collins went to any of them. We know Piers Morgan did. The mind – it truly boggles.
Remind me never to go to Champneys.