TV star speaks to PT about Jimmy Savile’s “wandering hands”

TV star and actress Julie Fernandez opening the Disability Roadshow at the Peterborough Arena in June.
TV star and actress Julie Fernandez opening the Disability Roadshow at the Peterborough Arena in June.
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TV actress Julie Fernandez has confirmed to the PT she suffered an “unpleasant” encounter with Jimmy Savile when she was 14, describing him as a “dirty old man”.

Mrs Fernandez (38), from Stilton, said the TV and radio presenter subjected her to lingering touches during the filming of an episode of Jim’ll Fix It.

The star of The Office and disability rights campaigner, then aged 14, had appeared on the popular TV show, which granted wishes for children, after she wrote to Savile asking him to arrange for a chinook helicopter to land on the school field as a treat for her teacher.

She said when she visited the studio for the filming and sat beside the Leeds-born star, he let his hand rest on her thigh, shoulder and back for periods that were “too long”.

She said: “He most definitely stepped over the line and most definitely made me feel very awkward.”

She said, however, it was “quite cleverly done”, being carried out in a busy recording studio and never in a private part of her body.

She said: “There’s a point when someone invades your private space and that’s what he was doing.”

She said she felt the allegations against Savile had not been made during his lifetime due to his prominent status, both as a TV and radio star, but also a fund-raiser.

She said: “He was untouchable.”

She acknowledge’s Savile’s death presented an issue for those seeking a resolution.

She said: “He’s dead. He should be in prison. He should be accountable. He won’t ever be.

Of her experience, which she described as “unpleasant”, she said: “It hasn’t terribly disturbed me in any way, because thank the lord it never went too far.”

She added, however, it had left her feeling ill at the sight of his TV appearances.

Of his state funeral last year, she said: “It was sickening. I just turned it off. He was a dirty old man with wandering hands.”

Mrs Fernandez never reported Savile to the authorities, believing his actions to have been too minor.

Of the sexual abuse claims, she said: “I’m not surprised, just very sad and disappointed for many women who weren’t believed and had terrible things done to them.”

She said she hoped by going public it would encourage others who felt Savile had crossed a line with them to report their experiences.