Could CBeebies Tweenies Savile row lead to a Stalinist Purge?

With CBBC being forced to apologise for having aired an old episode of The Tweenies featuring a parody of disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile, David Reviews co-founder Jason Stone discusses the implications for the corporation's archive of footage following the controversy.

The news that the BBC has had to apologise after broadcasting an episode of the children's programme The Tweenies "featuring a character dressed as a DJ impersonating Jimmy Savile" seems likely to provoke public outrage.

Never mind that the offending instalment was made in 2001 or that Savile is unlikely to be recognised by the very young audience who watch this programme, the possibility that our children will be exposed to the sight of a puppet character resembling the disgraced DJ will probably be enough to send social media into a frenzy with many directing anger at the BBC for allowing it to happen.

But those complaining should consider what they want of the broadcaster. Is it really conceivable that the BBC is going to be able to track down every single reference to Savile in the hundreds of thousands of programmes in their archive?

The ongoing broadcasts of vintage episodes of 'Top of the Pops' on BBC4 had already been compromised by the need to withdraw any programmes in which Savile appeared before it was decided that the BBC should also pull any editions featuring Dave Lee Travis after he was arrested as part of Operation Yewtree. Meanwhile the maverick football reports provided by Stuart Hall on Radio 5 Live have also been brought to a halt after he too was charged with sexual offences.

These decisions were perhaps inevitable because of the corporation's hand-wringing once it emerged that an examination of the allegations into Jimmy Savile on Newsnight had been mysteriously dropped at the eleventh hour... not to mention their collective guilt about employing Savile for so long and unwittingly assisting his contemptuous behaviour.

But to fret about references to Savile in programmes that had nothing to do with him is taking it too far. What does the public want? A Stalinist purge? Is it realistic to expect that the BBC should expunge every appearance, impersonation and reference to the disgraced DJ?

Can't we just be a bit more grown-up about this and recognise that it's simply not possible? And that it might not even be desirable?

After all, while the case for purging Savile might be incontrovertible, who gets to decide who else should be erased from the national archives?

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.

Come on in, it’s free.

This isn’t a paywall. It’s a freewall. We don’t want to get in the way of what you came here for, so this will only take a few seconds.