He arrived at the wheel of his Rolls Royce smoking his trademark cigar.
Sergeant John ‘Bill’ Bailey’s was less than impressed when he first met Sir Jimmy Savile.
The year was 1969 and the Leeds legend was at the Royal Marine Commando School in Lympstone, Devon, to take on its famous assault course for a children’s documentary.
It was here that he earned the coveted green beret which will be buried alongside the 84-year-old next Wednesday.
John, now 67, from Sussex, had been asked to welcome the Leeds legend, who died last Saturday.
He said: “I got told there was this chap, a TV personality, coming down wanting to do the commando course. This strange bloke with long, dyed-blond hair turned up in a Rolls Royce smoking a cigar.
“I took him to the Sergeants’ Mess and sorted him out. But I had to ask him why he dressed like he did.
“He just said ‘No man should be ashamed of their workclothes’. After that we got on like a house on fire.”
For the next week instructor John had the ex-miner and cyclist running miles in full ‘fighting order’ battle dress carrying an SLR rifle.
The dad-of-two said: “He did all the component parts: a 30-mile cross country run across Dartmoor; a 12-mile load carrying march; and a nine mile speed march. Even the tunnels, except the underwater one as it reminded him of his mining accident.
“My boss said at the end ‘what do you think?’ I said if you rounded somebody off the street they wouldn’t have done the half of it. Jimmy Savile was 42 and did 90 per cent. So he got his beret.”
The pair kept in touch and had a reunion when John appeared on the BBC show Top Secret, where a panel has to guess your job.
John, who was 6ft 1in and 16 stone, said: “They eventually guessed I was the guy who trained Jimmy Savile. At the end of the show Jimmy whispered to me to grab him by the scruff of the neck and lift him over his shoulder and carry him out. It was very funny.
“Jimmy Savile was always a great friend of the Royal Marines.”