Travis 'big pussycat', says dancer

Witney Gazette: An ex-Top Of The Pops dancer described former DJ Dave Lee Travis (pictured) as a "lovely man". An ex-Top Of The Pops dancer described former DJ Dave Lee Travis (pictured) as a "lovely man".

A former dancer with Top Of The Pops troupe Pan's People told a court that DJ Dave Lee Travis was a "big pussycat" and "absolutely never" did she witness him do anything inappropriate on the show.

Patricia "Dee Dee Wilde", who as part of Pan's People was a regular on Top Of The Pops in the 1960s and 1970s, described him as an "absolute professional" and a "lovely man".

Ms Wilde said that as young, female dancers they always had plenty of male attention, but would "slap down" anyone who approached them that they didn't want to.

She said: "We were in the most enviable position because we met every single pop star going and all the DJs. It was just the most wonderful, wonderful job for a young girl to have."

But she said they never had any problems with Travis.

She told Southwark Crown Court that when she first met him, before she joined Top Of The Pops, she thought "what a lovely man he was''.

She said: "He is a big bear of a man. If he came up and gave you a cuddle you felt very safe with him, unlike other DJs.

"He is actually a big pussycat."

Travis, from Buckinghamshire, is charged with 13 counts of indecent assault dating back to between 1976 and 2003, and one count of sexual assault.

He denies all the charges, and is appearing in court under his birth name David Griffin.

Ms Wilde said another big name DJ made them feel very uncomfortable, adding: "It was very different in those days. Things that were acceptable then are not acceptable now."

When quizzed about former Top Of The Pops host Jimmy Savile, she said: "I didn't like Jimmy Savile at all, he was very creepy.

"As a woman I didn't feel comfortable in his presence."

She said Savile would approach women quite close, "would pick up your hand and kiss it and lick it at the same time".

Travis, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and patterned red and white tie, listened to the proceedings in the dock with the aid of earphones.

Ms Wilde, dressed in all-black with leopard print high heels and a red scarf, told the court she was part of Pan's People from 1966 to 1975.

The group performed dances for songs by American artists unable to appear on Top Of The Pops and worked "52 weeks a year" during their time on the show.

She described Travis as a "consummate professional".

"Dave was one of the most gentle men and the nicest of all the DJs that appeared," she said.

Ms Wilde told the court that DJs who appeared on Top Of The Pops were "stars in their own right" just like the pop groups of the day.

She told the court "never once" did she hear complaints about Travis's behaviour.

Any complaints of inappropriate conduct would have "spread like wildfire", she said, such as a "DJ already mentioned" and a director/producer she refused to name.

Ms Wilde told the court she met Travis again more recently when he suggested forming Pan's Grannies for a performance at an old people's home.

Earlier, a female musician told the court that Travis was "very professional" when she posed naked for pictures he took at his house.

Elisabeth Birks said Travis asked if he could take photos of her after he saw that she had interesting tattoos at a charity event at London's Battersea Park.

Ms Birks said she was about to take to the stage with her husband when Travis tapped her on the shoulder and said he liked a tattoo on her back, which he had seen because she was wearing a backless dress.

She said: "He was very friendly, he seemed lovely."

Ms Birks said Travis asked if she would model for him, which she was happy to do, and gave her his card.

She visited Travis's home in 2010 with her husband, where the DJ introduced the couple to his wife.

After he gave them tea and cakes and showed her previous photos he had taken, her husband went to watch DVDs and his wife remained downstairs while Travis and Ms Birks went off to take photos together, she told the court.

Ms Birks said they started with her wearing a vest top and hot pants so Travis could take photos of her tattoos, but they eventually took pictures of her while she was naked.

Ms Birks said Travis was a "very, very professional photographer, very polite" and would always ask her if he wanted to physically move her.

She said: "He just made me feel very comfortable.

"Dave was very professional about it."

Asked if he ever did anything inappropriate, Ms Birks said: "No, not at all.

"I felt comfortable for the whole thing.

"Everything was fine."

Former Radio 1 producer Timothy Blackmore told the court he was not aware of any inappropriate conduct by Travis while they worked together at the BBC.

Mr Blackmore, who was part of the team which launched Radio 1 in the 1960s, said DJs at the station at that time were "elevated in the national consciousness" as it was the first legal station to play pop music all day.

He told the court that Radio 1 fans had a "great deal of enthusiasm to meet their heroes" but could not remember any particular incident involving Travis meeting fans.

"I specifically remember trying to rescue Tony Blackburn from a crowd," he said.

On another occasion he had to drive Noel Edmonds away from people "who wanted to tear every limb from his body", Mr Blackmore said.

He recalled an incident in which he travelled on a train to Blackpool with an unnamed Radio 1 DJ when a "couple of girls" spotted them on board.

"The end result was that when we got into Manchester he got off the train with them," the witness said.

"I tried to persuade him not to get off... but he insisted and went off to do with these two young ladies, I do not know what."

Mr Blackmore told the court that the DJ he referred to was not Travis, Blackburn or Edmonds.

Kevin Howlett, who worked on Radio 1 roadshows and produced Travis's Saturday show from 1985 to 1987, said the DJ was a "gentle giant of a man" and everything he associated with him was "warmth, friendliness and jollity".

Mr Howlett said Travis's way was to "just be friendly and give somebody a big hug", adding that he had received a hug himself from him when they made a programme together in the 1980s.

He described Travis as a "very experienced broadcaster, very well respected broadcaster", calling him "very gifted".

During cross-examination, prosecutor Miranda Moore QC asked him: "If somebody was overtly committing sexual assaults or being sexually inappropriate at the BBC, do you think that would have become known?"

Mr Howlett replied: "Yes, there would probably have been whispers or rumours. I never heard anything to do with that with Dave. Not one whisper or rumour."

Asked whether he had heard any rumours about Jimmy Savile while he worked at the BBC, Mr Howlett said: "Nothing substantial at all, really, just vague things that he was a bit of a ladies' man, or something like that.

"I wasn't aware of anything that has come out since, about underage girls. I just heard rumours he was a shady character."

Mr Howlett told the court that on the two occasions he met Savile he got the impression he was "a very strange character", adding that Savile did not go to Radio 1 events or roadshows.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.

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