Norwich Jimmy Savile impersonator given his hero’s blessings

How's about that, then? Inspired by childhood memories of poptastic presenting, glitzy suits and catch phrases galore, a Norwich man decided that he would turn his playground impressions of the late Sir Jimmy Savile into a career.

Little did he know that his attempts would be met with just two responses, one from Jerusalem and another from the legend himself.

Andrew Flintham, of Newton Flotman, has strong recollections of the impact the Jim'll Fix It star, who died this weekend, had on him and his peers at their school in Leicestershire.

'He was such a character and was the face of pop at the time, along with Tony Blackburn. It was something we grew up with and it was exciting too. At school everyone talking about Top of he Pops and what records to buy.'

Winning over guys and gals with his studied take on Sir Jimmy, it was also the cigar-smoking MENSA member who inspired him into a career in music that saw him rub shoulders with Pete Waterman and Motorhead, among others.

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However, having launched his own record label and released the biggest selling wildlife record of the 90s - Brecklands Dawn Chorus - in 2004, producer Andrew found the industry shrinking due to the rise in home recording equipment.

It was then that he struck upon the idea of turning his party trick into a career.

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'Someone said I should do something with the Jimmy Savile impression and I was skint at the time, wanted to earn a living out of it and I thought there were bound so be people who would want him at things like birthday parties so I went for it.'

The 49-year-old bought himself a wig and jewellery to go with the 70s flares and shirt he already owned, put up an advert in satirical paper Private Eye and waited.

The first call, a request to perform at the sacred site of the Western Wall in Old East Jerusalem, was not followed up. Then came the second.

'There was a thick Yorkshire accent who asked if I could do some impressions,' said Andrew, who later worked out this was Sir Jimmy's friend from a documentary on the star.

Then the phone was handed over, and a very familiar voice came on the line.

Determined not to be hoaxed, he set about using his industry experience and knowledge to grill the other man on the end of the phone but emerged convinced

'At first I thought it was a very elaborate wind up and I wanted to find out if he was real and I think he was half expecting it, and you know I think he half enjoyed the fact I was giving him a hard time.

'He was staccato and suspicious for a bit then he got more friendly and chatty. Then he told me to go forth and spread the word of Jimmy Savile. 'It was a bit mad and I was a bit shell-shocked.'

It was the last call he got from the advert. Since his brief encounter and failed career venture, Andrew has gone on to become a musical therapist.

However, he will be bringing it out again for his History of Vinyl and Hi-Fi talks, which will go on tour around the region covering the music industry from the 1930s to the 1990s.

Of Sir Jimmy's death, he added: 'I thought it was the end of an era. Over the 70s he was the face of music at the time and the excitement of the time. It was an amazing time to live in and he summed it up.'

Those interested in being given the talks can call Andrew on 01508 471485.

•Did you have a chance encounter with the icon? Call John Owens on 01603 772439 or email

•Sir Jimmy was born in Leeds in 1926, the youngest of 7

He narrowly escaped death twice, once as a baby with pneumonia, and then when a coalface collapsed on him as a teenage miner.

•He enjoyed regular dinners with Margaret Thatcher while her neighbour when she was Prime Minister.

•His accountant claimed to have stopped counting after he raised more than �40m for charity.

•He discovered violinist Nigel Kennedy.

•He claimed to have run the Uk's first disco in 1948 in Leeds.

•In a stint as a professional wrestler he fought more than 100 bouts.

When news came through about Sir Jimmy Savile's death people from Norwich left a number of tributes online. Here are some...

• 'R.I.P Sir Jimmy the gent Savile I cried when I heard the news a sad sad day you were one of a kind, The best DJ from my teenage years, down to earth never forgot your roots and the best charity fundraiser there ever was one in a million xxx ' (Marie Wright)

• 'Jimmy Savile will be remembered by his phrase 'Now then guys and dolls' and his big cigar as well...R.I.P Jimmy Savile...' (CORNISHROB)

• 'Top bloke Jim. Great memories of TV and radio, with immortalised catchphrases.' (Nrg)

• 'A true gent, what Jimmy has done with Stoke Mandeville and other great causes as well as Jim'll Fix It - yes I do no-one will ever do as much. A Sad Sad Day! R.I.P Jimmy, we will all remember you, SIR' (David Maxwell)

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