Louis Theroux reveals his ‘confusion at quite liking Jimmy Savile’ and how he stayed in touch with the entertainer after making his documentary
Louis Theroux has spoken of his regret that he once considered prolific sex offender Jimmy Savile to be a ‘likeable person’.
Reflecting on his relationship with Savile, which was forged when making the documentary When Louis Met Jimmy in 2000, and the subsequent revelations about the DJ’s crimes, Theroux, 48, tells today’s Desert Island Discs: ‘There is something very conflicting about reading about crimes and predatory activity while also knowing that this was someone you sort of quite liked and trying to square that in your own mind.
‘I remained in contact with him a little bit after I made the first programme. I am still a bit confused about how I was able to sort of experience him as a somewhat likeable person in the year or two after making it.’
Louis Theroux has spoken of his regret that he once considered prolific sex offender Jimmy Savile to be a ‘likeable person’
Theroux was criticised for only briefly addressing in the documentary widespread rumours that Savile might be a paedophile.
When asked why he always said that he hated children, Savile replied: ‘Obviously I don’t hate them… It’s easier for me as a single man to say I don’t like children because that puts a lot of salacious tabloid people off the hunt.’
Following Savile’s death in 2011, it emerged that he had preyed on 500 victims. Theroux, who defends his decision to make a second documentary about Savile in 2016, says he felt scapegoated. ‘On occasion I felt I saw people, in a human way, trying to protect themselves and again I saw people in a sort of understandable way looking to cast blame,’ he says.
Louis Theroux appearing on Desert Island Discs. Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 today at 11.15am
‘I don’t necessarily mean at work, I mean generally throughout society. When you have experience of people doing things that are nakedly self-interested and unkind, that darkens your view of the world a tiny bit.’
The father of three also reflects on his upbringing, and likens life as Westminster School, which he attended, to the San Quentin maximum security prison in California where he made a documentary.
‘There is something about a lot of males in a confined space, something about the improvised physical fabric which is all higgledy-piggledy,’ he says. ‘And then, I hesitate to say this, a certain level of situational homosexuality which I think… is relatively common, definitely in prison and to an extent in all-male boarding schools.’
Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 today at 11.15am.