Rolf Harris has started giving evidence at London’s Southwark Crown Court in his trial for alleged indecent assaults.
The 84-year-old veteran presenter began Tuesday’s proceedings by providing details of his childhood in Australia.
Giving evidence for the first time in his indecent assault trial, he described the start of his career to jurors at Southwark Crown Court, including how he invented his well-known “wobble-board”.
He told the court he had been a talented swimmer as a teenager and went to university but “didn’t really understand it” and was asked to leave.
Harris said he then started teaching but became unwell after picking up an infection while swimming in a river and became “totally paralysed”. He said it was while he was recovering from the illness in hospital that he decided to pursue a career in painting and moved to London to study in March 1952, when he was 22.
The entertainer said he got his break in television in 1953, despite an “appalling” audition.
Harris then gave details of his musical recordings, singing a section of his song Jake the Peg to the jury and demonstrating the sounds made by a didgeridoo and wobble board.
Describing how he came up with the idea for his famous “wobble board”, Harris said he was trying to dry a piece of hardboard that he had painted and covered in turpentine, using an oil heater.
“I had no idea how much heat was coming out of this blessed thing – it was red hot,” he said. “I tested it with my finger and it was like ‘Argh’, and a big blister came up on my finger.
“I thought it was going to catch light. I had it between my open arms and I shook it,” he said, describing the noise it made when he did so.
“It seemed to have a rhythm so being a musician and an entertainer I started accenting the off-beat.
“It was just a wonderful sound, a loud sound. That became the wobble-board.”
Harris initially stood while giving evidence, but later chose to sit down in the witness box.
He outlined his various career successes, including the television programme Whirligig and hits Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport and Jake The Peg, which he sang to the court.
At times the entertainer was cut short by Ms Woodley, prompting him to say: “I’m sorry I’m waxing a bit too lyrical on all these answers, I’m sorry.”
He told the jury he is a “touchy feely” person and did hug his alleged victim – but not in a sexual way.
During questioning by his defence barrister, Sonia Woodley QC, Harris was asked: “(The alleged victim) has said that you hugged her and she found that creepy. Have you hugged (the alleged victim?).
Harris replied: “Yes, I have. I’m a very touchy-feely sort of person.”
Ms Woodley asked: “In any sexual way or not?” “No,” said Harris.
The artist was then questioned about a particular incident which is alleged to have happened when the girl, who was friends with his daughter Bindi, travelled with them to Hawaii.
Ms Woodley said: “She says that when she came out of the shower you were there and you indecently assaulted her. Did you do that?”
The TV star replied: “No, it didn’t happen.”
Asked by Ms Woodley about the woman’s claims that he “tickled” her as he walked past her, he said: “I have no recollection of that”, and of claims that he touched her intimately, the artist said: “No, it never happened.”
He described the woman as “shy”, but said: “I think she gradually got to be at ease with my presence.”
Asked by his barrister if it was difficult for him to recall events from 40 years ago – the period covering some of the allegations – Harris said: “I must say it’s been very difficult.”
The jury has heard prosecution claims that Harris, from Bray, Berkshire, was a “Jekyll and Hyde” character whose fame allowed him to target under-age girls.
The entertainer told the court that he married wife Alwen – who watched from the public gallery with other family members – in 1958.
He said previous health issues included a stroke and heart problems, and he had been diagnosed with diabetes.
Asked about his drinking habits, Harris said he drank in a “perfunctory way” and would share a beer with his wife with a curry.
He denies 12 counts of indecent assault on girls aged seven or eight to 19.
Harris has insisted he had a consensual relationship with his daughter Bindi’s best friend when she was an adult.
The incidents are alleged to have taken place between 1968 and 1986.