No, Terry Wogan Did Not say “David Icke was Correct on Jimmy Savile”

From Neon Nettle a purported news-site otherwise unknown to me:

Did Terry Wogan Admit David Icke Was Right Before his Death?

…Wogan allegedly told the BBC news service:

“I ridiculed someone who was in the process of waking up. You see I was asleep myself just as so many others were. Well, I apologise to Mr Icke unreservedly for being a snivelling arse that night on the Wogan show. David Icke was correct on Jimmy Savile and all the others, especially those in the halls of power,”

David Icke returned to The Terry Wogan show in 2006, this time the audience did not laugh at Icke, instead they listened to him without much interruption from Wogan himself.

The Neon Nettle quotes as its source for this a website called the Daily Squib – quite obviously a parody site. The Neon Nettle‘s click-bait mendacity would probably be better ignored, were it not for the fact that that the headline comes up under Google News, and that various individuals on Twitter are repeating the quote as if it were true.

Here’s the actual story. At the start of 1991, Icke was known to the public as a former sportsman and newsreader, and more currently as a spokesman for the Green Party. Early in the year, he announced that he had had some sort of mystical experience, as a result of which he now believed in a number of supernatural phenomena and regarded himself as having special cosmological significance.

This was initially covered by local television news (I remember seeing it) – some media mockery followed, and then his famous appearance on Wogan, Terry Wogan’s prime-time chat show on BBC 1. Famously, when Icke said that he appreciated the audience’s laughter, Wogan informed him that “they are laughing at you, not with you”. In 2006, Wogan and Icke met for a retrospective interview on UKTV Gold, in which Wogan conceded he had been “a bit sharp” in saying that. Icke then used the opportunity to expound on “secret societies” and “family bloodlines” and such.

Wogan was as congenial as ever, but unimpressed. In his autobiography Mustn’t Grumble, published later the same year, he referred (p. 245) to:

David Icke, no longer a gentle soul convinced that he was descended from the Godhead, that wearing turquiouse was the way to salvation, and that we were all doomed, but now a ranting demagogue convinced that we were all manipulated sheep, and, of course, all doomed.

There is no evidence anywhere that Wogan changed his mind on this in the years that followed.

Rumours about Jimmy Savile long predated his death; in 2008, for instance, he took legal action against the Sun over a story linking him to abuse in Jersey, and as far back as 1978 John Lyndon claimed to know about “all sorts of seediness” involving Savile. In 2000, Savile told Louis Theroux (in response to probing) that as a single man he preferred to give the impression of disliking children because “because we live in a very funny world” and he wished to put “salacious tabloid people off the hunt”.

Icke eventually endorsed all the Savile rumours, although this site, apparently run by rival conspiracists, documents that Icke only turned to the subject in 2011, following Savile’s death. Allegations against Savile were first taken seriously by the mainstream media and the police in late 2012, and the same site suggests that Icke has exaggerated his supposed prescience.

Wogan’s own statements on Savile appear to be contradictory; in August 2013 he gave an interview to the Telegraph:

On the Jimmy Savile allegations, he is considerably graver. “I was completely unaware of it – 99.9 per cent of us were. But I’m not sure we can be blaming the BBC for the behaviour of individuals. They can’t be held responsible. It’s a torrid time for people in the public eye. When you look at the kind of people who are being exposed by Operation Yewtree – God, it gives you pause for thought.”

However, in October 2013, he told The Times, as reported in the Independent:

He told the paper: “I was sitting at a table having lunch and Savile was sitting one up from me, and also up from me was Jean Rook [Express columnist]. And Jimmy Savile got up to go to the loo, and she looked across at me and said: ‘When are they going to expose him?’ I said: ‘That’s your job.’ And nobody ever did.”

Perhaps these statement can be reconciled – he had heard the very vague rumours, but was “completely unaware” of anything specific. But it is also likely that Wogan was being circumspect in what he chose to say – perhaps that’s not to his credit, but the subject of celebrity abuse must have been strange and disturbing territory for a light entertainer, and he probably wanted to avoid becoming the focus for any kind of controversy. I doubt many people would hold that against him.