Friday, 19 April 2013

Celebrity Scandals

It's been revealed today that Rolf Harris was arrested and put on bail in the Savile probe aka Operation Yew Tree.

Obviously I believe in these cases as being innocent until proven guilty.

I don't know how to feel about the news though. As a kid Harris was a hero to me and I still hold him in a lot of affection. I don't want it to be true basically. But I'm not so blinkered to deny all evidence should it prove to be absolute. I also feel guilty to immediately not believe the news as that means I'm instantly dismissing the allegation of an offence that an unknown woman has struggled with all these years.

It's quite sad really to see and hear of so many 1970s/1980s popular light entertainment faces being arrested for sexual abuse. People like Stuart Hall, Dave Lee Travis, Freddie Starr, Jim Davidson and Fred Talbot aka Fred The Weatherman from Granada TV and This Morning in Richard and Judy's heyday, who have all come to light and been arrested following the wake of Jimmy Savile.

Now, like Savile I have to say there's a number of names up there I dislike or never took to anyway so it hardly upset me as such and some of them - if the allegations are true - haven't truly surprised me either I'm sorry to say, whether that says more about them or about my perception of them, fairly or unfairly, I do not know.

Such horrible news coming to light is not new however and I'm reminded of another familiar face from the light entertainment of yesterday, Arthur Mullard.

Arthur Mullard,  the 6ft 2 bruiser with his bulldog features and distinctive wheezy cockney accent, was a regular fixture in British comedy from the 1950s to the early 80s. Born Arthur Mullord in Islington, London in 1910 and worked as a butcher's assistant until joining the army at the age of 18. A keen boxer, Mullard became the regimental champion and, on civvy street, he turned professional fighting twenty bouts over three years and only throwing in the towel following a KO that saw him lose his memory!

From there, he worked as a bouncer, rag and bone man and artist's model before returning back to the army for WWII where he served as a Sergeant Major in the Royal Artillery. Following demob, he swapped his name from Mullord (he felt like he was always addressing a peer of the realm when saying it) and sought work as an actor, supporting artiste and stunt man. He didn't have to search far, gaining work in many Ealing comedies, kitchen sink dramas, British new wave of the 1960s and in the 1970s, TV sitcom spin offs like Holiday On The Buses and sexploitation, his final role in Adventures of a Plumber's Mate. On television he was a star in Yus My Dear and Romany Jones and he even had a hit record, an interminable spoof duet with Hylda Baker of the Grease hit You're The One That I Want. The joke seemed lost on everyone, even on the stars themselves who famously seemed very confused on Top Of The Pops, but still, it sold records!

He passed away in 1995 in his Islington council house he resided in despite fame. His wife Flo had died of an overdose from sleeping pills in 1961 following bouts with polio, meningitis and mental illness. It was up until his death the only hint the general public had to all not being well in the Mullard home.

Following his death his daughter Barbara confirmed Mullard had sexually abused her from the age of thirteen and that her mother had taken her own life as an escape from the torture of his physical and mental cruelty. It subsequently led to Barbara's own nervous breakdown at the age of eighteen.

In a newspaper article following his death, Barbara revealed;

"It was only after my 13th birthday that everything changed. He suddenly realised I was growing into a woman. My mum Flo had just gone into hospital with polio. He needed someone to take her place.

First I became his domestic slave, then I became his sex slave. According to him, satisfying his carnal needs was part of my womanly duties.

I was in the kitchen when I heard a sort of thud on the wooden table. I turned round and there was what I took to be a long-stemmed mushroom on it, although it seemed to be alive.

He said, 'Look at that,'  I asked, 'What is it? Is it a mushroom?'
He didn't answer me. I think I made him a bit embarrassed because of course it was his penis. I was so naive, I didn't even know that.

He told me, 'I'm your father and I have to instruct you about life. This is my job'.

That's how he rationalised what he was doing. He was doing his duty as a good father. So when he was groping me and giving me French kisses, that was loving me and being a good father as well.

He said I should feel honoured and privileged at getting all this tuition. 'You're the fruit that I've grown' he said. 'I'm entitled to have the first taste'"

Sickening, I'm sure you'll agree.

I suppose it just goes to show however familiar these people on your TV screens are, you should never kid yourself that you truly know them, or what they are capable of.

Something to bear in mind in today's current climate.

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