A legend as a DJ, dating all the way back to his role as the very first presenter of the iconic BBC show, Top of the Pops, he had the trust and admiration of millions.
But now, we know the truth about Jimmy Savile, and it is a truth that is equally horrifying and scandalous.
How did his predatory sexual nature and paedophilia not come to light sooner? Did nobody see the signs? Was nobody prepared to properly confront the widespread rumours of his outrageous behaviour?
That was one question asked by Louis Theroux in a documentary aired earlier this week where he revisited his time with Savile. And it’s a question asked by Irish journalist, Joe Jackson, speaking to Ryan Tubridy this morning, looking back on his own encounters with Jimmy Savile.
"None of us got Jimmy Savile, I have to say that… Nobody got under his skin. Nobody got the truth."
The Savile interview was part of a series Joe Jackson did for the Sunday Independent between 2000 until 2007, but it’s the one that poses the greatest moral dilemma for the journalist.
"I went to him as somebody who actually saw the first Top of the Pops, who went on the CRC walks, got my medal, who watched Jim’ll Fix It… All of those make him an interesting figure, whatever about the rest, as a cultural icon."
Joe followed Jimmy Savile in 2001, when he was visiting Ireland, and did some extensive recording. But only when listening back in recent times has Joe discovered how disturbing the material actually was. Savile had demanded that one interview be recorded in the dining area of the Central Remedial Clinic, where, as he said, “the kids will join us afterwards”.
“There is a point in the interview where he says, 'I am a professional answerer'. I now decode that to mean a professional liar… Nearly everything he says to me in the program is a lie.”
Savile had a Superman outfit on with a plunging neckline and a gold medallion. He was 70-years-old with a hairy chest, surrounded by children, in signals that seem obvious now. But, as Joe says, “he was hiding in plain sight.”
That said, Joe remembers going through a 180° turn in his view of Savile, during that 2001 interview, as his behaviour became more and more uncomfortable.
And that discomfort is obvious when Ryan and Joe listened back to some of the tapes of Jimmy Savile speaking.
One of the most disturbing moments in their interaction was when Joe asked Jimmy about some rumours concerning his sexuality. What if, in later years, those children who idolised him, found out he was gay, for example?
“You can’t kid a kid. They are too smart. But you can kid an adult.”
And clearly, Jimmy Savile did so, very successfully.
To hear more from The Ryan Tubridy Show, click here.