Jim’ll Fix It ran on BBC1 tv from 1975 to 1994. Back in 1982 the BBC went behind the scenes of the programme:
The philosophy of Jimmy Savile OBE is simple. ‘If you want anything spontaneous to happen, ‘ he says, ‘organise it.’
Each year Roger Ordish in his sixth-floor office at Television Centre sits a large plastic bag of lost causes. ‘This is the “confidential waste” as it is called,’ he says. ‘We are always getting letters from boys who want to train with their favourite football team and girls wanting to ride with show-jumping stars,’ says Ordish. ‘And then pop music-you can data a letter by pop music. The perfect formula he says should make the audience say ‘Isn’t she lucky, isn’t she brave and isn’t it funny.’
One suggestion which came very close to this was the bride whose sister asked Jim to organise an elephant ride for the happy couple from the church to the reception. Not only did the BBC’s Special Effects Department build a howdah for the elephant’s back on which the bridal couple was seated but Tom Fleming, the man who did the commentary for the Royal Wedding, was engaged for the occasion.
The youngest person to appear on Jim’ll Fix It was a three-year-old boy who wanted to do precision formation driving with earth-moving equipment, and when a mere lad of 104 asked to ride in a racing car, that too was arranged.
The show was the idea of Bill Cotton, then Controller of BBC1. Despite its great success in this country, it has failed elsewhere. Jimmy has no doubt why his show has always captured large audiences. For him the most important consideration is never to take advantage of anyone.
‘There are certain rules which I impose on the production team,’ he continues, ‘although of course Roger Ordish, my producer, chooses the letters. I won’t have violence, lavatory humour or sexual innuendo-it is not a slot for that sort of thing.’
Jimmy has not forgotten himself in all the fixing that has been going on over the years. At 4 pm every studio afternoon he has served in his dressing-room on a silver salver, poured from a silver tea-pot and accompanied by cucumber sandwiches.
Film items are shot throughout the year for the 13-part series and incorporated into the programme which is recorded every Tuesday from the end of December for transmission the following Saturday week. The recording takes place in the newly decorated Shepherds Bush Television Theatre, previously the Shepherds Bush Empire, an old variety theatre. ‘It is excellent from the audience’s point of view,’ says Ordish. ‘And I rather like being there because you are away from Television Centre and it’s your own ship whereas in the Centre you are just one of the programmes.’
I’ve uploaded 20 Years of Jim’ll Fix It presented by Andi Peters and broadcast on 2 January 1995.
Quotes taken from Inside BBC Television: A Year Behind the Camera (Webb & Bower 1983)