TV presenter Vanessa Feltz has opened up about her experience with disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris following the news of his death on Tuesday (23 May) age 93. Speaking on her TalkTV Drivetime show, Feltz recalled interviewing Harris for Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast Show whilst he was at the height of his fame in 1996.
Harris died of neck cancer and “frailty of old age” on May 10, according to a death certificate filed at Maidenhead Town Hall.
The disgraced entertainer and convicted sex offender, 93, was a family favourite for decades before being convicted of a string of indecent assaults in June 2014. These included one on an eight-year-old autograph hunter, two on girls in their early teens and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter’s friend over 16 years.
What did Vanessa Feltz say about Rolf Harris?
Speaking to her fellow TalkTV presenter Kevin O’Sullivan, Feltz explained that she was initially very excited when she was informed that Harris was going to be her guest at the time.
She said: “So we crowded into the little tiny bedroom where the Big Breakfast Bed was because it was situated in lock keepers’ cottages and it was a real lock keepers cottage so it was a tiny little bedroom. So there’s the bed, there’s me on it and Rolf Harris next to me and the cameraman, director and Rolf Harris’ wife standing literally a foot away to the side of the bed.”
Feltz said when the interview went live, she could hear a strange noise.
Pointing to an image of herself and Harris from the interview, Feltz said: “If you look at the picture, you will see that I’m wearing a full length beaded gown. I was always in full evening dress in the morning on the bed. This was the whole idea of it and the noise was my dress being crunched between Rolf’s fingers as he started at my ankles and began to bring the dress further and further and further up my legs.”
She explained how she used a blue cushion on the bed to act as a barrier between herself and Harris, but that he “completely ignored it”. Feltz also said that the energy of the Big Breakfast was that it was “jolly, lots of children watched it, very positive, very, very innocent, very fun show”.
Feltz continued: “I can feel my dress coming further and further and further up my thighs, past my knees, past my knees up to my thighs. I didn’t know what to do because I knew that I couldn’t say, “Get your hand off my leg” or “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” or “Get off me” and I also couldn’t jump off the bed because I was all mic-ed up and it’s a live program. I didn’t know what to do at all.
“I tried, as you can see, to put the cushion between, that was no good. I couldn’t move any further away because you can see I would’ve fallen off the edge of the bed… his hand meanwhile getting closer and closer and closer and closer. And then it got to the edge of my pants, my knickers or whatever. My lingerie, and I knew that if I didn’t do something immediately, it was going to be a proper full on assault.
“So I did what you’re never allowed to do as a presenter, which I wouldn’t be allowed to do on this show, which is throw it to a break when I want to, rather than waiting for the director to tell me a break’s coming up.”
She said that after ushering in the impromptu ad break, she “didn’t say a single word, he didn’t say a single word, his wife didn’t say a single word and then when we came back [after the break] I just got back on the bed and we carried on”.
Feltz first opened up about the incident back in 2014 in an interview with the Sunday Express.