LONDON -- The BBC apologized Monday to the growing number of women who claim one of the corporation’s former entertainers sexually abused them.
The world’s largest broadcaster has been rocked in recent days by accusations that Jimmy Savile, a prominent figure on the BBC for decades, assaulted underage girls, sometimes at the BBC’s television headquarters.
Speaking on BBC’s Radio 4 Today Program, the BBC’s new boss, George Entwistle, apologized to the alleged victims “for what they’ve had to endure here,” and said the state-funded broadcaster would conduct a “comprehensive examination” following a police inquiry.
Britons have been shocked by serious allegations leveled against Savile, an eccentric television personality who hosted music and children’s programs and was knighted in 1990 for his charity work. He died last year, at age 84.
Savile’s reputation appears to be in tatters following an expose on BBC rival ITV, featuring a number of women claiming they were abused by Savile at the height of his fame in the 1970s and 1980s. Dozens more women have since come forward.
The British prime minister has called the allegations “truly shocking” while critics have accused the BBC of turning a blind eye to the various rumors that circulated for years around one of its top performers.
Other female BBC presenters have also raised questions in recent days about the corporation’s culture in the 1980s.
Liz Kershaw, a BBC Radio DJ, said she was “routinely groped” in the 1980s while broadcasting live on air. She said that when she complained, she was told: “Don’t you like it? Are you a lesbian?”