CBeebies, the BBC's channel for pre-school viewers, has apologised after broadcasting a 2001 episode of entertainment and learning show Tweenies in which a character dresses up as disgraced Top of the Pops host Jimmy Savile.
In the scene, Tweenie Max dons a blond wig and gold chains, holds a microphone and uses Savile's catchphrase "Now then, guys and gals". It was shown in a pre-9am slot this weekend.
Savile, who died in October 2011 aged 84, is alleged to have sexually abused young girls on BBC property during the 1970s while a host on the music show.
A recent report by the Metropolitan Police and the NSPCC linked him to 34 rapes and 126 indecent assaults against children as young as eight, during a period stretching back as far as 1955.
The broadcasting blunder was spotted by viewers who shared their shock on social networking site Twitter.
"Are BBC trying to self destruct?" asked Kerry Senior. "Max from Tweenies dressed as Jimmy Savile just now nearly chokes on my cornflakes."
Glenn Ebray tweeted: "Dear CBeebies, I'm not sure this was a good choice of DJ to impersonate on The Tweenies today."
Following the complaints, the BBC issued a statement apologising for the mistake: "This morning CBeebies broadcast a repeat of an episode of Tweenies, originally made in 2001, featuring a character dressed as a DJ impersonating Jimmy Savile. This programme will not be repeated and we are very sorry for any offence caused."
Tweenies was cancelled in 2003 but is regularly repeated on CBeebies.