It is often said we live in a celebrity obsessed age, where very little talent can get you an extremely long way in the most unlikely of fields.
It seems if the camera or microphone (or in some cases, the mixing desk) loves you then the world is your oyster, because if you are on the telly then you are allowed do whatever you want. Why else is Essex boy Jamie Oliver regarded as such an expert on school dinners; the Irish warbler Bono a friend of presidents and world mover and shakers or housewives’ favourite George Clooney listened to on humanitarian issues more than diplomats?
It’s because they are famous and their mugs have appeared just about everywhere, meaning just about everyone they meet will hold open doors for them and bow to their every demand. If someone off the telly does some good on the back of their fame the great but, call me old fashioned, I prefer issues of national consequence to be settled by someone with the correct training and knowledge rather than a wide boy who can knock up a mean lasagne in 15 minutes.
But to dismiss this obsession with celebrity as a 21st century disease would be wrong especially when you consider the influence wielded by Britain’s current Public Enemy Number One, the late Jimmy Savile.
While, like everyone, I have watched with growing revulsion as the man once regarded as the nation’s eccentric uncle has been exposed as a predatory paedophile I have been just as shocked by the level of influence this despicable man wielded. While we all knew about his seemingly tireless charity fundraising for institutions such as Stoke Mandeville Hospital or his voluntary work at Leeds General Infirmary, what did come as a shock to most people I know when we were ‘reminded’ of his not so insignificant role at Britain’s top high security hospital, Broadmoor over two decades ago.
I have listened with increasing incredulity over the past month as it emerged that not only did he have his own room at the place the land’s criminally insane call home but he had his own keys. It then turned out that long before he was exposed as a vile old nonce, he was so high up the food chain he even chaired a taskforce which ran the hospital in 1988.
This role led to what must be the most extraordinary photograph ever taken – the one showing the former miner and wrestler introducing the then boxer Frank Bruno to the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.
Now it has been claimed Savile even advised Prince Charles on who he should appoint as his private secretary some 22 years ago. It seems even our future monarch was taken in by a man who has since been described as one of the most prolific sex offenders the UK has known.
It just goes to prove that we are all suckers for the rich and famous. More fool us.