Sir Jimmy Savile’s last BBC interview celebrates the North’s role in TV

By Kevin McHugh

The late Sir Jimmy Savile is among those who have contributed to a programme looking back over 50 years of television production in the North West.

TV Greats: Our Favourites From The North, hosted by Derbyshire girl, Tess Daly, will see an array of celebrities talk about the influence of the television programmes produced by the BBC’s northern studios.

In his last interview for the Beeb, Sir Jimmy looked back at the humble beginnings of the iconic music show, Top of The Pops, and its connection with the area.

“It was a magic mix,” he said. “The North and Top of the Pops, a magic mix.”

Starting in 1964, the show’s first three years on air were filmed in a disused church in Rusholme, Manchester, and served as the setting for The Supremes’ world television debut.

Reflecting on how music television has changed, Sir Jimmy said “It was something that had to be tolerated, this pop music and long haired people.”

BBC Manchester is home to some of the country’s most popular and long running television shows.

Last year, A Question Of Sport celebrated its 40th anniversary, and Mastermind first appeared on TV back in 1972.

Current host of the evergreen quiz show, John Humphrys, recalls thinking the show’s producers wanted him to be a contender on the programme – an offer he didn’t relish.

“However experienced at quizzes they are and however clever they are, you know they’re scared!” he said of the show’s contenders.

Salford-born actor and one-time Dr Who, Christopher Eccleston, believes the North has provided so many gifted actors and writers due to the nature of the people.

“We all think we’re comedians don’t we?” he says. “There’s a great love of language in and around Manchester and Liverpool pubs… a great joy in language and a great joy in storytelling, in conversation actually, in the sense of a community and I think writers have tapped into that and brought it to a national audience.”

TV Greats: Our Favourites From The North will celebrate over half a century of the BBC in the North at a time when the corporation is moving to new a new base at MediaCity in Salford.

TV Greats: Our Favourites From The North will be screened this Saturday at 8:15pm on BBC2.

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