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Celebrity has cast a spell over everyone, Rantzen warns after Savile report

Published 25/02/2016

Esther Rantzen said 'celebrity has cast a spell over everyone'
Esther Rantzen said 'celebrity has cast a spell over everyone'

Children dreaming of stardom need to be warned about the dangers they may face from modern monsters like Jimmy Savile, ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen has said.

The campaigner and broadcaster said "celebrity has cast a spell over everyone" and that youngsters need to be told that "fame isn't a guarantee of virtue".

Speaking after the release of Dame Janet Smith's report into Savile's sickening crimes, Rantzen said: "I think we live in an age when celebrity has cast a spell over everyone.

"It's not new really, you have had demagogues, leaders, monarchs, all sorts of people who have been like magicians and I'm afraid that the media have done this to stars of reality shows, disc jockeys, all sorts of people.

"I don't know quite how you protect people from it. I would suggest that when a child says his or her ambition is to be rich and famous, somebody somewhere needs to point out that sometimes there are feet of clay, and that fame isn't a guarantee of virtue, goodness, (or) kindness.

"The tragedy that someone, somewhere appointed Jimmy Savile to present a programme (Jim'll Fix It) in which he was supposed to be humane, good, kind, (and) generous to all the children that came near - that is a terrible irony and it must not be repeated."

ChildLine, which is run by the NSPCC, has helped more than four million children in the past few decades.

Rantzen said there had been an increase in calls to the hotline since the Savile revelations, adding: "I think there have been some good results, both of the revelations about Savile and this report, because I do think that survivors of abuse do feel more able to come forward, talk about what's happened to them, recognise it was not their fault, and that their disclosures will be investigated."

But she added that there were some "difficult issues" within the 1,220-page report.

"Dame Janet rightly says paedophiles are manipulative, ruthless criminals who infiltrate organisations in order to have access to children. It happened to the Church of England, we have seen it this week with Bishop Peter Ball. It has happened in Rotherham ... three men convicted of terrible crimes and the allegation that the police were part of the corruption in that place, and now the Savile report.

"I think we just, anyone working in an organisation has to be alert to this and we have to find ways of enabling today's children to ask for help before it gets too late."

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