Hoorah! It's almost Christmas. It's that time of the year when - no matter where you live - your drab town or village is given a dash of sparkle, a twinkle of light and a big dollop of notoriety, as one special person is chosen (from a list of literally thousands of d-list faces from "off the telly") to switch on the Christmas lights. Most famously, the Oxford Street and Regent Street Christmas - a firm fixture in the London calendar since as far back as 1981 ("oooh", I hear you Americans cry, "that far back") - which have been switched on by such luminaries as Jim Carrey, Robbie Williams, Terry Wogan, The Spice Girls and even Peter Andre. (Gasp).
But sometimes, many years later, a (seemingly innocent, but now wildly inappropriate) "celebrity" booking can come back to haunt each village or town, as a miserable little miser like me, compiles a list of inappropriate celebrities who switched on the Christmas lights. Enjoy!
Sir Jimmy Savile OBE KCSG* - In 2010, Jimmy Savile switched on the Bingley (West Yorkshire) Christmas lIghts. As reported in the local paper, the Telegraph & Argus, "Sir Jimmy Savile was guest of honour in Bingley... he proposed marriage to any of the town’s “marvellous ladies” who would have him... the 84-year-old bachelor had a look around the grotto where Santa handed out more than 400 presents to children".
In 2012, one year after his death, an ITV investigation implicated the TV celebrity (famous for BBC kid's shows Jim'll Fix It and Top of the Pops) in a series of sickening sex scandals involving vulnerable children - many whom were in hospital or care homes - spanning across six decades. Today, Savile is widely regarded as one of the UK's most prolific paedophiles, with 300+ known victims, including 28 children under the age of 10.
* yes, he's still an OBE & KCSG, as well as many other honours and awards, he is yet to be stripped of
Rolf Harris - In 2006, cartoonist Rolf Harris - famed for his popular kid's TV show Rolf's Cartoon Club, songs like "Tie M'Kangeroo Down Sport" as well as painting an official portrait of The Queen - switched on the Christmas Lights in Crawley (Surrey), as well as Regent Street in 1995 and Leeds in 1997. Since 2014, Rolf Harris has been in prison in HMP Stafford serving just five years and nine months for the indecent assault of 12 girls, all aged between 8-19.
* interestingly, (unlike Savile) many of Rolf Harris' honours and awards have been rescinded
Stuart Hall - In 2007, TV presenter Stuart Hall - famous for his infectious laugh during his popular 1980's BBC TV gameshow "It's a Knockout" (basically a kid's sportsday with inflatables) - switched on the Christmas Lights in Southport (Merseyside). In April 2013, Hall pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting 13 girls aged between 9 and 17 years old, with an additional two charges added in 2014. He is currently out of prison and on licence having served half of his sentence.
* yet again, unlike Savile, Hall's OBE was stripped in October 2013.
Max Clifford - In 2011, celebrity publicist Max Clifford switched on the Christmas Lights in Weybridge (Surrey). One year later, Clifford was arrested by the Police as part of Operation Yewtree - a criminal investigation into allegations of child-abuse following Jimmy Savile inquiry - and was charged with 8 counts of indecent assault against girls aged between 14 and 19 and sentenced to 8 years in prison at HM Prison Littlehey.
Oddly, there's seems to be an unusual correlation between being a predatory paedofile or sex offender and a desire to switch on the Christmas Lights, as - hard as I've tried - I have struggled to find very few celebrities with dubious histories who have done the "switching on" duties. That said, here's a few others which also were inappropriate.
* this seems to be a curse; one year after all of the above switched on the Christmas Lights, their life turns to shit
If you "enjoyed" this, you may also like my blog - Celebrities Who Have Killed.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime historian, writer and tour guide of Murder Mile Walks.