It opened with Mrs Whitehouse cycling to church past picture-postcard cottages and whitewashed picket fences (oblivious to the occasional wife with a black eye). The background music was a jaunty version of "Ma's out, Pa's out. Let's talk rude. Pee, po, belly, bum, drawers." We might have had better luck with that one in the Eurovision Song Contest. She was 50 and looked as if she should be advertising Fairy soap, but she would soon meet the tsunami of the 60s head on.
Hugh Carleton Greene was a journalist who had reported the German invasion of Poland to the sleeping Poles and had seen all he ever intended to see of censorship. He was director general of the BBC throughout the 60s, arching over the decade like a great greenhouse. Under his beneficent protection, fresh talent flowered extravagantly: Till Death, Z Cars, the Wednesday Play and That Was the Week, which was modelled at his suggestion on pre-Nazi cabarets. They stopped the world. On certain nights the nation swarmed home like bees to the hive and, next day on the bus, buzzed of nothing else. I felt then, and have not felt since, that television really mattered.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I missed Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story (written by Amanda Coe and starring Julie Walters) last night but in The Guardian, Nancy Banks Smith sings the drama's praises and reflects on a bygone era.