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'A proper British eccentric': Tributes pour in as DJ, TV presenter and charity marathon runner extraordinaire Sir Jimmy Savile dies
By Sarah Bull
Updated: 09:07 GMT, 31 October 2011
Sir Jimmy Savile has died at his home aged 84.
The former presenter, most famous for his show Jim'll Fix It, passed away at his home in Roundhay, Leeds just two days before his 85th birthday.
Tonight, tributes for the veteran presenter poured in from the world of show business, with actor Ricky Gervais tweeting: 'RIP Jimmy Saville My first guest on my first TV Show A proper British eccentric.'
BBC radio presenter Nicky Campbell tweeted: 'SirJimmy Savile-a man so unique,a character so extraordinary, a personality so fascinating yet impenetrable. You could not have made him up.'
Radio presenter David Hamilton said that Sir Jimmy, who was knighted for his services to charity, worked 'tirelessly' to raise funds for various causes.
'He was a very energetic character,' Mr Hamilton told Sky News.
'But most of all, I remember him as just a totally flamboyant, over the top, larger than life character and as he was on the air, he was just the same off.'
Sir Jimmy's fellow DJ, Dave Lee Travis, told Sky News: 'For some unknown reason, with Jim, you couldn't anticipate that he wasn't going to be around anymore - he was such a powerful presence.
'He was one of the first DJs that actually became a personality.'
The Apprentice's Lord Sugar wrote: 'Sad news on the death of Jimmy Savile very funny man and did loads of work for charity RIP.'
Radio presenter Paul Burnett told Sky News that Sir Jimmy's charity work was a 'two way street', adding: 'He didn't have a family as such and so when he took on a charity, that became his family.
'He did a lot of work as a porter in the hospital that he collected money for. He would go there at night and work as a porter and I think he loved the people that he worked with, it wasn't just for the publicity, but he knew the charities were doing well out of it as well.
'He was capable of acts of great kindness. You didn't really ever get to know "the man" because he was a showman, and like so many showmen that's - that's their main thing in life and he did it brilliantly.'
Classical singer Katherine Jenkins tweeted: 'Sad news Jimmy Saville has passed away.My sis & I always wanted a Jim'll Fix it Badge/Medal. Loved that show.Great memories #RIPJimmySaville.'
The cause of death is not yet known but tonight two of Sir Jimmy's nephews confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep last night.
Roger Foster and Ian McKenna paid tribute to Sir Jimmy outside his flat. Mr Foster said: 'It is with deep sadness that I can tell you that our uncle Sir Jimmy Savile passed away quietly in his sleep during the night.
'Jimmy was a wonderful man, his public face is well-known but we knew him as much more than an uncle, he was a very good friend.
'Jimmy will be sadly missed by very many people. We would like to thank the people who have already offered their condolences.'
A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: 'Police were called at 12.10pm today to the discovery of a man's body at a house in Roundhay, Leeds.
'The body of a man in his 80s was found at the property. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.'
Sir Jimmy was born in Leeds on Halloween in 1926, the seventh child (‘I was the “not again!” child’) of Vincent, a bookmaker’s clerk, and Agnes, the woman he always called the Duchess.
TV legend: Savile with one of his famous Jim'll Fix It medals
Me and the Duchess: Savile and his mother at Buckingham Palace in 1972 where he received his OBE
He almost died from pneumonia when just five months old but miraculously recovered after his mother went out to the local church to pray to a deceased Scottish nun.
He again narrowly escaped death as a teenager in his first job when working as a miner.
An underground explosion brought down the coal face on his back damaging his spine to such an extent that he was told he would never walk again. But he proved the doctors wrong when he threw his sticks away just three years later.
He raised staggering amounts for charity - his accountant lost track after £40million - much of it for patients with spinal injuries.
Sir Jimmy claimed to have set up the world's first disco in Leeds in 1948.
His work in the dance-halls was eventually spotted and he was asked to move on to radio where he rapidly acquired national fame, first with Radio Luxembourg and then with BBC Radio 1.
He later competed as a semi-professional sportsman, taking part in the 1951 Tour of Britain cycle race and a professional wrestler. He fought 107 bouts, lost 100 and won just seven, insisting it was never fixed.
CELEBRITIES PAY TRIBUTE TO SIR JIMMY SAVILE
Ricky Gervais: 'RIP Jimmy Saville My first guest on my first TV Show A proper British eccentric.'
Radio presenter Nicky Campbell: 'Sir Jimmy Savile - a man so unique,a character so extraordinary, a personality so fascinating yet impenetrable. You could not have made him up.'
DJ Tony Blackburn: 'He was a one-off - that's the way he'll be remembered, really - but in particular all that money he raised for charity.'
Stuart Hall, broadcaster: 'He had lots of imitators, the one and only Jimmy Savile.'
Radio presenter David Hamilton: 'I remember him as just a totally flamboyant, over the top, larger than life character and as he was on the air, he was just the same off.'
Lord Alan Sugar: Sad news on the death of Jimmy Savile very funny man and did loads of work for charity RIP.'
Katherine Jenkins: 'Sad news Jimmy Saville has passed away.My sis & I always wanted a Jim'll Fix it Badge/Medal. Loved that show.Great memories #RIPJimmySaville.'
Carol Vorderman: 'RIP Jimmy Saville .... Leeds has lost a much loved son ... and we have lost a ray of sunshine .... #happymemories x
Talking about his sporting past, Sir Jimmy once said: 'If you look at the athletics of it, I've done over 300 professional bike races, 212 marathons and 107 pro fights.
'No wrestler wanted to go back home and say a long-haired disc jockey had put him down. So from start to finish I got a good hiding. I've broken every bone in my body. I loved it.'
In 1964, Sir Jimmy presented the very first edition of Top Of The Pops from a television studio in Manchester. He was then invited to present the last episode of the BBC show in 2006.
In the 1970s he started a 20-year run as host of Jim'll Fix It, working miracles for more than 1,500 children.
Among the more famous fix-its was the time when he arranged for an unknown 11-year-old called Nigel Kennedy to perform on television. Kennedy then went on to become one of the world's most celebrated violinists.
During his time in the television and radio industries, Sir Jimmy became famous for catchphrases including 'How's about that, then?', 'Now then, now then, now then', 'Goodness gracious', and 'Guys and gals'.
Sir Jimmy was known for his distinctive appearance, which included a tracksuit or shell suit and gold jewellery, and was frequently spoofed by comedians including Mike Yarwood.
Sir Jimmy's earnings were substantial and he owned at least eight homes, including flats in Regent's Park, Bournemouth, Leeds and Scarborough. Among his six cars were a Bentley Turbo, a Mercedes 500 SL and a flashy Rolls-Royce.
He was a paid consultant to travel agent Thomas Cook and charged a minimum of £10,000 for personal appearances.
He became a regular visitor to Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, and Highgrove and was used as an intermediary in an attempt to resolve the differences between the Prince and Princess of Wales shortly before their split.
Asked why he was invited so often by the Royal family, he once said: 'Royalty are surrounded by people who don't know how to deal with it. I have a freshness of approach which they obviously find to their liking. I think I get invited because I have a natural good fun way of going on and we have a laugh. They don't get too many laughs.'
Satirist Chris Morris targeted him in 1994 by announcing on Radio 1 that the presenter had died and broadcasting his obituary. Legal action was threatened and apology issued.
And Louis Theroux probed his apparently odd lifestyle for his Weird Weekends series, staying with the presenter for his When Louis Met Jimmy programme.
During the documentary, Theroux visited his suede-walled flat in Scarborough which was a shrine to the former DJ's late mother, with her old bedroom perfectly preserved.
News of Sir Jimmy's death also prompted tributes from the world of politics.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'Sir Jimmy Savile was one of broadcasting's most unique and colourful characters. From Top Of The Pops, to making children's dreams come true on Jim'll Fix It, a generation of people will remember his catchphrases and sense of fun.
'But his lasting legacy will be the millions he raised for charity, tirelessly giving up his time and energy to help those causes he was passionate about.'
And former deputy Labour leader Lord Prescott tweeted: "Sad to hear of Jimmy Savile's death. Tireless fundraiser and a real character. £nowthennowthen."
A memorial and book of condolence to Sir Jimmy has been set up in Savile's Hall, opposite the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
The foyer of the hall will also feature a life-size poster of Sir Jimmy in his trademark Jim'll Fix It chair, which was bought by the hall off Ebay three years ago.
James Vincent, managing director of Royal Armouries International, said: 'Sir Jimmy was a great friend and a driving force for us and we want to pay tribute to the man.
'He was a legend, an extraordinary larger than life character.
'We share the grief of his passing and hope his loyal local fans will appreciate this as a fitting place in which to honour his memory and lay any flowers or mementoes.'