Unfolding claims of sexual abuse against late BBC star Jimmy Savile have plunged Britain's national broadcaster into its biggest crisis for 50 years, a senior reporter has warned.

Veteran BBC foreign editor John Simpson explained in an interview to be aired Monday that the scandal had left the broadcaster in a "very dangerous" position.

The BBC is fending off reports that it pulled an investigation into Savile's behaviour because it would have clashed with tribute programmes to the entertainer, who died last year aged 84.

"This is the worst crisis that I can remember in my nearly 50 years at the BBC," Simpson says on BBC1's flagship investigative show, Panorama.

"I don't think the BBC has handled it terribly well.

"I mean, I think it's better to just come out right at the start and say we're going to open everything up and then we're going to show everybody everything."

British police investigating the eccentric star said Friday they were now dealing with up to 200 potential victims. They have launched a full criminal probe into other suspects who are still alive.

Savile was one of Britain's best-loved television presenters who raised huge sums for charity. But claims that he sexually abused underage girls have left his reputation in shreds and the BBC facing accusations of a cover-up.

Two weeks after a programme by BBC's commercial rival ITV aired allegations about him by a handful of women, Scotland Yard said the claims had snowballed, with dozens of other people coming forward.

The BBC has announced an independent probe into its "culture and practices" during Savile's time at the broadcaster.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]