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  1. #1
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    Default Disgusted: The Mary Whitehouse thread.

    During season 14s most Gothic, horrific period, Mary Whitehouse, self confessed "clean up tv" campaigner, decided that Dr. Who was too horrific for its teatime audience, particulary the scene of the Dr. drowning at the end of episode three of The Deadly Assassin.
    Whitehouse had been campaigning since the early sixties about the state of British Television and led conferences and talks with BBC Director General Sir Hugh-Carlton Greene about cleaning up its screens. One of her particular gripes was Alf Garnett in hit comedy Til Death Us Do Part whose every other word was "bloody", something not heard on primetime tv at that period of the sixties.
    She also turned her attention to music, in 1972 she picked up on Chuck Berry's My Ding A Ling, with its chorus "I want you to play with my ding a ling" implying (in her mind) mutual masturbation. Again in 1976 she wantd a ban on Donna Summer's Love To Love You Baby, in which she stated that Summer sounded as though she was having an orgasm in the studio. Needless to say, after her many complaints these records soared into the charts as did audience figures rocket once she drew attention to "the dirtiest programmes in the world"
    So, what do we think of Mary Whitehouse? Was she justified in her complaints? or was she just a meddling, interfering battleaxe as she drew swords with the BBC and government alike?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Morgan View Post
    ...or was she just a meddling, interfering battleaxe...
    Yep, and J.N-T loved her for the ratings boost she gave Doctor Who & as you alluded to, anyone whom she "targeted" generally got more out of their work than they probably would have done normally. God bless her!

  3. #3
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    As a five year old at the time, I can only say I never tried to drown my brother in a bathtub, nor do I ever remember any angst-ridden, bedwetting weekdays as I agonised over the long gap between episodes and wondered if the Doctor would live or die.

    So I think with Doctor Who she was way off the mark... that said, although I would also say she (and to be fair, although "she" was the driving force, there was an organisation before her, so it wasn't just Mrs Whitehouse flicking through the Radio Times looking for things to tut at) did make some odd choices of things to complain about, I do have a certain sympathy for the notion that viewers should have some say about what is acceptable on TV. The problem, of course, is that everybody would draw that line in a different place.

    So I think her general intention was a noble one, but her methods and particular targets maybe a bit less sensible. Good on her for trying to stand up to the BBC, though, just imagine if we'd had her behind the 'bring it back' campaign in 1985!!

  4. #4

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    Perhaps you needed to start a little younger, or be born in a different time, but Doctor Who didn't scare me one bit when I was 7. Never saw what the fuss was about.

    Actually, now that I think about it, I do remember having a bit of a thing for pretending to choke people after The Robots of Death. Whitehouse was right!

  5. #5
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    What a shame she died before we had contestents on Big Brother sneaking to have sex with each other on TV ...

    Today her opinion of TV seems very naive and repressed - like TV should be unreflective of the society it often mirrored. Even today in soaps, people use a heck of a lot less swear words than in real life.

    Also of course she obviously had a hideously dirty mind, as she seemed to recognise the sound of orgasm, and could only think of masturbation when she heard about Chuck's dingaling.
    Remember, just because Davros is dead doesn't mean the Dalek menace has been contained ......

  6. #6

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    I'm sure I recall hearing something that the original producers/writers/whatever looked forward to complaints from Mary Whitehouse - because it would improve the next weeks audience figures.

  7. #7
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    You can't help looking at Ianto's arse when he's going at it with Captain Jack in Torchwood, and not smile thinking "what would Mary Whitehouse do now" ...
    Remember, just because Davros is dead doesn't mean the Dalek menace has been contained ......

  8. #8
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    It's difficult to agree that did the right thing in complaining about Doctor Who. Her actiosn effectively neutred the show after 1977- you only have to watch the documentary on the Graham Williams years on The Ribos Operation DVD to see that. the fact that such a close eye was given to the show by the new head of Serials and Series when Graham Williams took over shows that. They seemed to panic over the slightest thing, lkke the use of a sacrificial knife in Stones of Blood.

  9. #9
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    In a way, it has restricted modern Doctor Who. In the seventies, stabbings (Leela), strangulations (Robots of Death) and symbolic paganism (Fendahl) were fine in Saturday night entertainment. These days, they wouldn't really get away with those to quite the same degree.

    Perhaps Whitehouse won after all.

  10. #10
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    Maybe on the violence front, but new Who is far more filled with innuendo and (admittedly mild) swearing than in the 70s. Can you imagine Mary Whitehouse's reaction to Moffatt's latest charity skit, in which the entire TARDIS-in-a-TARDIS problem is caused because Rory looked up Amy's skirt?

  11. #11
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    ...and let us not forget that the violence got worse in the 80s - you only have to look at Season 22 to see that!

    Plus, in the latest series, we've seen Amy shoot at a child, kill Madame Kovarian with the eye-patch, beheadings, skulls eating people etc.

    However, the difference is that much of it is implied violence, rather than shown.

    Do you know what they call me in the ancient legends of the Dalek homeworld? The Oncoming Storm.

  12. #12

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    A lot of the old violence was pretty bloodless though. Although if you were an extra in many of the old episodes, you might as well have worn a red shirt.

    Incidentally, what happened to the Master's nifty person-squashing gun? Will that ever be brought back?

  13. #13

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    I don't think anyone who ever thinks they should be able to dictate what other people are allowed to see based on their own personal opinions or morals can be in any way admirable.

  14. #14

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    If you think you will be offended by something, don't watch it. if you are watching something and find it becoming offensive to you, don't watch it. You will not like everything on the television. Television is not your mother.

  15. #15

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    Whitehouse had a lot of support among ordinary people in the 1960s and 70s - remember the Festival of Light. Post facto mythmaking by younger left-wingers who hate her doesn't match up with the facts.

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