Psycho character based on Savile – says McDermid

Val McDermid, crime writer .
Val McDermid, crime writer .

Bestselling Northumberland-based crime writer Val McDermid has admitted she based one of her most vile characters on shamed star Jimmy Savile.

The 57-year-old from Alnmouth says the former Top of the Pops presenter inspired serial killer Jacko Vance, who first appeared in the novel The Wire in the Blood.

The Wire in the Blood.

The Wire in the Blood.

Vance is a TV celebrity and well-known for lots of charitable work associated with hospitals, but has a secret lust for torture, murder and under-age girls.

He is based on McDermid’s own experience of Savile, after she interviewed him in the late 1970s while working as a journalist.

“Jimmy Savile was a deeply unpleasant man and he set my teeth on edge on that one occasion,” she said.

“When I wrote The Wire in the Blood, Jimmy Savile was very much at the forefront of my mind, but I had to make sure he didn’t pick up on it – that’s why I made Jacko Vance handsome and charismatic.

“When I was a journalist, there were certain names being mentioned in respect of sexual abuse of children and he was always spoken of.”

McDermid is currently part of the Million for a Morgue campaign – a unique fund-raising project set up by the University of Dundee to help collect funds to build the morgue within the new Thiel Centre of Excellence.

Ten crime writers, including McDermid, are involved in the initiative. Everyone who donates at the site can vote for their favourite author/authors to determine who will have their name on the centre.

McDermid said: “It would be a tremendous honour for me to win because it is something voted for by the public, although I am not quite sure how comfortable I would be with a morgue which carries my name.”

McDermid has been touring to promote her latest work The Vanishing Point. Signed copies of this book, as well as her children’s book My Granny is a Pirate, are available from Alnmouth post office.

She is set to start work on a new novel, set to be released next autumn.

On Saturday, she is compere at Alnmouth’s Christmas lights switch-on event.