The King strikes back

22 October 2011

Good to see Jonathan King winning his battle with the Stalinist BBC. The corporation had edited
him out of a rerun of a 1970s Top of the Pops show, as if he had never existed. As those of us of a certain age know all too well, Mr King was an extremely regular performer on the show during that
time, either as himself or under a number of disagreeable disguises: the Piglets and Sakkarin to name but two. Indeed, when King was sentenced to seven years in prison for sex crimes I wrote to him
sympathising with the harshness of the tariff and the unfairness of the court case, but added that I thought he deserved at least seven years for ‘Una Paloma Blanca’. I got a remarkably cheerful letter back from his cell which vaguely agreed on the last point. On the BBC issue, as Terence
Blacker pointed out in The Independent, if you removed from Top of the Pops all performers who somehow offended liberal sensibilities you’d be left with a very short show.

King was convicted via the offices of Max Clifford, of course, almost twenty years after the alleged offences took place. There was no corroborating evidence and King was effectively unable to
defend himself. At least one of the men who claimed he had enjoyed consensual sex with King (there was never a suggestion that the sex was anything other than consensual) later admitted he was over
the age of consent at the time. King had believed them all to be over sixteen. Anyway, as a consequence, he lost his liberty for a remarkable seven years and has become a sort of pariah —
which is a shame, because he is a very clever man and, as I later found out, extremely good company. He has made a film of the case against him called Vile Pervert: The Musical which is a
fantastically berserk, bravado performance. You can download it from the computer thing, if you want.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Good view.

  • Dana

    Jonathan King is a convicted paedophile. After his trial, several friends of his were also convicted of sexual crimes against the same boys. In short: he ran a paedophile ring.

    I don’t blame the BBC for not wanting their name to be associated with King any more.

  • Eddie

    It’s very odd that the BBC is delighted to support and hire those who have convictions for gun and knife possession, and hard drug possession too. I note that Top Boy, a series on Channel 4 (funded by the BBC) features some actors who have spent time in prison for gun possession. Does this mean that possessing a gun and being involved in gang violence is OK?

    Maybe if J. King blacked up and spoke like demn gangsta an ting, he would have been welcomed back by the beeb?

  • Innocent Accused

    If you look deeper into King’s conviction you’d be even more horrified!He never did it,of that I’m sure.

  • Simon

    The TOTP programmes being shown were originally 40 minutes long and have to be cut to fit a 30 minute slot. Therefore, something had to go and King’s song was one of two to be cut.

    That doesn’t mean I agree with the BBC’s decision to erase King (and Glitter) from history. I don’t. However, the decision is not quite as Stalinist as it might seem.

    Is it possible that Liddle has hit the nail on the head over sentencing? Perhaps the judge was sentencing him for Una Paloma Blanca rather than any sex offences.

  • ‘Mandy


    Jonathan King?

    And some others. See above.

  • Barry

    Jonathan King?

    Who cares?

  • D Shawness

    Fergus Pickering, don’t forget Wilde got two years with hard labour, which more or less killed him. Seven years in a modern jail can’t be compared.

    Strange tho that Wilde is doubtless seen by the BBC as some sort of cultural hero despite similar ‘abuse’. And abuse that was repeated many times, and would now be seen as exploitation by a rich man of poorer people.

  • ‘Mandy

    That Wilde chap was a bit unlucky though.

  • I S

    Most of the Radio 1 stable of DJs from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s would have been in clink if their proclivities had been exposed.

  • Jabba the Cat

    Good job Kenny Everret pegged it when he did, else he would have been in clink with King and Glitter.

  • Archie

    “Million Dollar Bash”? Outrageous!

  • Hexhamgeezer

    I realise that it is probably illegal to think so but I always thought it a little creepy seeing JK and his young consorts out on the town. JK usually sporting smug grin as he escorted his potentially illegal beaus about.

  • fergus pickering

    I thought a paedophile was someone who wanted sex with children. Whatever the state of the law at the time, I cannot and do not regard sixteen-year-old boys as children. You can shag and indeed marry, girls of the same age.

  • Baron

    anyone standing up to the BBC cannot be all that bad, good on him.

  • Bradfordlad

    perhaps Jonathon King was hard done by, I for one don’t know because his music was terrible and what he did get up to didn’t impress me in the slightest. but it does look like Gary Glitter travelled abroad to nonce young girls, so less of the hero worship from some folks would be nicer.

  • Edward McLaughlin


    “But probably, the dreary cultureless uneducated BBC operatives think Dostoevsky is a Russian cleaning product…”

    You mean Damascus surely?

    JK gave us a fair inkling in the early 70s: ‘He wears a football shirt with a number 69 on, an’ he looks me in the eye when he shoots’. Made me chuckle over my Alpine Ayingerbrau & lime.

    BTW Rod, GG’s Rock and Roll pt 2 is an indelible anthem of Brut soaked tank-toppery.

  • reg

    King”s sexual partners may well have been over sixteen at the the time,however the homosexual age of consent in those days was twenty one.The man was and remains a paedophile.And his music remains rubbish.

  • Master Cobbett

    Why was Bill Wyman never prosecuted over his sexual relationship with a 13 year old girl –public knowledge at the time ( c 1980 something ). Can I add to the character references for Mr G. Glitter; he was a very funny and rather bemused man with no over estimation of his own music ( or of much other pop music as I recall). Oddly that’s something else he shared with J. King; that they both pedalled dross ( sometimes dross scattered with flair) and knew it was dross, and were fairly cynical about the whole process. Perhaps if they’d essayed a Captain Beefheart style of noise they would have been treated more sympathetically all round.

  • I S

    Harriet, I’m sure, could give a fair rendition of the massed bagpipes from ‘Mull of Kintyre’.

  • Snotter

    The BBC don’t have a problem with playing songs by Cat Stevens who advocated the murder of Salman Rushdie. Pity cos they’re crap songs.

  • Tiberius

    I could take all those, Rod, and a few others but NOT Harriet Harman. There is such a thing as propriety.

  • Eddie

    I noticed a Gary Glitter song being given a mumbled embarrassed mention in a chart rundown of Pick of the Pops on Radio 2 a while back. So, is this man and his music to be erazed from history then? Too young to have known his music in the 70s – but he did great student shows in the late 80s!

    The more the BBC picks on people it sees as good targets (Glitter, King, Nick Griffin, the EDL), the more I warm to these people! I always support the victims of bullying – and that is what the BBC does to certain people it identifies as ‘The Other’ who must be destroyed. Florence Nightingale is one of the historical figures who gets the same treatment.

    King and Glitter are being unfairly singled out, bullied and attacked by the state-funded Leviathon of the BBC – which is supposed (lest we forget) to spend its time, effort and (our) money making good programmes, not promoting its own version of history and its PC political views.

    I think that perhaps those penpuchers and HR bimbos at the BBC need to get an education and read some history and literature (rather than media studies modules). Then they’d learn that very many writers, artists, composers and indeed actors have had done things and led sexual lives with which our puritanical feminised kidocracy might not approve:

    Charlie Chaplin went out with 15 year olds; Dostoevsky wrote about his sexual experience in a bath house with an 11 year old girl. And I won’t even mention the prophet of Islam and his 9 year old bride…

    But probably, the dreary cultureless uneducated BBC operatives think Dostoevsky is a Russian cleaning product…

  • Popeye & Oliva – Their pavane

    Gary Glitter did the cheapo, the synthetic panache and the lafabout like no one else. We miss him, yeah!

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Ian : 7.02am

    “Same logic as Harperson omitting Thatcher from the list of influential UK female politicians!”


    But the complaint, from Rod and others, always seems to be couched in terms of the perpetrators consciously, knowingly, and deliberately misrepresenting reality for nefarious reasons. I don’t think it’s really like this. I think, in the main, that this sort of misrepresentation happens because the vast majority of media people (and people generally?) are driven only to make observations that are supportive of whatever is circumscribed by the Overton Window at the time. So repeats of TOTP shows from the 1970s are about showing off some of the heroes of that time – King and Glitter have since blotted their copybook, and cannot therefore be heroes – ergo they must be blacked out from the hero presentations. Should things change, and King/Glitter be allowed to re-enter the class of “acceptable human beings” then the same people who are censoring them now would be the first ones to insist that they are included in the revised hero presentations.

    After all, if you are trying to portray the simplistic notion that “goodness” is the essential pre-requisite of heroism – if you want to be a hero, you have to be “good” – it rather confuses the message if you display once-upon-a-time heroes who have subsequently been labelled as being baddies.

    Many people seem to appreciate being treated as though they were five-year-olds – it’s only crotchety old buggers like Rod (and you, and me) who seem to be irritated by this.

  • rod liddle

    I would take Hitler, Harriet Harman, George Monbiot and Robert Mugabe doing a barbershop quartet version of Mull of Kintyre over Sting’s greatest hits.

  • Eddie

    The BBC are happy to play the records of murderers – Phil Spector, Joe Meek – and of users of hard drugs who no doubt have inspired some kids to become hooked on heroin and cocaine. It is also happy to play records by religious nuts of various kinds whose views are less than tolerant – Christians. Muslims and gay-hating rappers.

    And yet, Gary Glitter and Jonathan King have been erazed from history because of a crime now bizarrely seen as worse even than murder. I presume thsi is to pacify the outraged ‘mums’ of Britain and is a decision taken by the very feminised and family-friendly BBC puritans. The BBC was much better before political correctness and oversensitivity stifled and choked it.

    Music, literature and art exist separate from their creator, who may well be a monstrous person or a criminal, yet who may also create great art.

    Perhaps society’s obsession with self and identity has created this way of seeing? People just can’t see through the artist to his music any more.

    The Teller and the tale are separate though. If Fred West had written great pop songs, they’d still be great pop songs, despite his crimes. Many writers of the past did things we would not approve of – but so what? Why should that matter?

    Why can’t the BBC show us the shows that we the public paid for with the licence in the 1970s (that’d be my mum then!) and let us decide if anything’s offensive or not? Those shows were paid for by us so belong to us: we have a right to see them.

    Does the BBC seriously think a taste for having sex with children (or young teenagers) can be caught by watching TV or listening to the radio? Or that doing so is somehow approval of the lifestyle of the music’s creator? How unbelievably nuts! How surreal! How Stalinist! How very BBC…

  • Ian

    Same logic as Harperson omitting Thatcher from the list of influential UK female politicians!

  • A. MacAulay

    Well, I suppose there’s no hope they’ll be showing any “Best Of” bits from the “Black abd White Minstrel Show”, then?

  • fergus pickering

    Seven years does seem rather a lot for consensual sex with a couple of boys he thought were sixteen. Oscar Wilde got only two for something very similar.

  • I S

    Given a choice between a copy of JK’s greatest hits and Sting’s greatest hits, I’d take JK.’Johnny Reggae’ anyone?
    What incenses me about the BBC and TOTP is the wholesale cultural vandalism they indulged in by wiping their copies of TOTP in the ’60s. Why? To reuse the tape!
    Of course, being the craven, stuffed-shirt, Home Counties lickspittles that they were, they retained every piece of crap relating to the political programmes of the time.
    This outrageous act of destruction has not only deprived us of many key performances from the golden age of pop (’65-’69), but has also lost the taxpayer bundles of loot that could have been earned from the licensing of these programmes. Thank goodness the Germans (Beat Club) and the Yanks were more farsighted.
    Have you watched the ’76 TOTPs? Total dreck. It makes you thank God for The Ramones and the Sex Pistols.
    I met Gary Glitter once (prior to his downfall) and I must say he was an absolutely smashing bloke – charming, funny and delightful company.

  • rod liddle

    Gary Glitter, from what little I know of him, strikes me as a thick and unpleasant monkey. But they shouldn’t cut his songs either on grounds of his later behaviour. Even if they are truly fucking awful.

  • Ice Lolly

    He was a pop star? Good lord, I reckon my postman has more charisma. Well, maybe not: the other day he was wearing his customary shorts, hat, and a green decoration in one nostril. Sorry. Yes, that’s how I felt. At least he’s not the milkman since we don’t have any.

    Okay, I’ve just looked at the song on YouTube. It’s beyond words. This wasn’t a comedy sketch? Well of course it was, it just took three decades for the joke to sink in.

  • ‘Mandy

    Bravo Wod.

    And bravo Jonathan. You may be a bugger but you shouldn’t have been cut from TOTP.

  • ‘Mandy

    While not everyone will be as bwave as Wod, comment is free, as they say at the Guardian. Dig in chaps.

  • Archie

    Far more Top of the Pops presenters were guilty of offences against good taste – not least in dress sense – than this fellow. Still have a copy of his song “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon” from 1967 or so (he said, desperately trying not to show his age!).

  • daniel maris

    It was one of those absurdly over the top sentences that the British judiciary like to pass down for no particular reason, while letting off with a fine some thug who beats up a granny.

    You are right to point to the absurdity and injustice of it. The BBC are being ridiculous in cutting him out, especially when they are happy to have Roman Polanski appear on their screens.

  • Austin Barry

    Knowing what we know now, what exactly was the sinister, Ganymedian-proselytising sub-text of the pros “Everyone’s gone to the Moon”?

    How do you feel about Gary Glitter?

  • Olde Janner

    “On the BBC issue, as Terence Blacker pointed out in The Independent, if you removed from Top of the Pops all performers who somehow offended liberal sensibilities you’d be left with a very short show.”

    Why were they all BNP members?

  • Robert Taggart

    @ Roddy. What be so wrong ?… with ‘Una Paloma Blanca’… nice little ditty !

  • Eddie

    I always found Jonathan King irritating and annoying, and am too young to remember his music – Ijust remember his curled wonky mouth from some pop programmes in the 80s). But really, I find the BBC irritating and annoying too, especially their attempts at Stalinist censorship and Bowdlerism in order to protect the public from anything that THEY decide is racist, sexist, or is by someone who may have been convicted of various crimes.

    It’s just like the extremist Israeli’s wanting to ban Wagner. As DH Lawrence knew, we have to separate the teller and the tale.

    So what if ANY writer, musician, artist has committed awful crimes: it would and should not affect our response to their creations, and they should certainly not be erazed from history by the puritans at the BBC. I notice that Gary Glitter has been erazed from their history of 70s pop too. Why? He was massive then; and I had a great time when a student in 1987 watching his Christmas show.

    Ditto for the way ‘It ain’t half hot mum’ has been banned from the BBC, it seems, and many other shows or episodes of shows the BBC deems ‘racist’.

    Of course, the BBC does this without any real authority, and also does not ban people such as Islamist extremists who constantly pop up promoting their violence on many BBC programmes. The BBC has banned all comedy sketches featuring Muslims though.

    The BBC has truly lost its way. It should stop behaving like a dictatorship or it might end up like Gadaffi – metaphorically, of course…

  • Matthew Blott

    Whilst I find it hard to muster the enthusiam of Rod Liddle I broadly agree with his sentiments. It’s always amazed me how Pete Townshend has managed to escape public censure despite being convicted of downloading – and paying for – the vilest images of child abuse (he even managed to headline Glastonbury with The Who since the conviction). Looking back I think King’s conviction had a whiff of homophobia about it – a pop star having sex with underage girls has often had the sort of nudge nudge treatment in the tabloid press. Indeed the sentence was unduly harsh for consensual sex – Graeme Rix served six months for having sex with a minor (female) and his sentence included assault.

  • David Ossitt

    I always felt that there was a great deal of malice in the demonization of Jonathan King.

    For the BBC to treat him as they now do is quite disgraceful.

  • Old Slaughter

    Wow. There’s some pigeons, and there is Rod throwing in a cat. Again.


  • roger

    The BBC is being very hypocritical , as a gay bastion during the years of total illegality and afterwards it was stuffed (if that’s the right word) with gay activists and there were legendary parties in the Shepherds Bush area. The BBC is now a pathetic shadow , disbelieved and losing discerning listeners and viewers everywhere. Break it up.

  • Santorum

    ‘the Stalinist bbc’. So you’re ex NKVD?

    Is there a Godwinski’s law?

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