ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV: Ms W and her typewriter might have been right all along

ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV: Mrs W and her trusty typewriter might have been right all along

Banned! The story of Mary Whitehouse


Becoming Parents: A Believer’s Guide


So was Mary Whitehouse a prototype development for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher?

Both women had opinions as rigid and inflexible as their hairstyles. Both were not afraid of being unpopular. Both had supportive husbands hovering quietly in the background.

Watch Forbidden! The Mary Whitehouse Story (BBC2), you can even make out Mrs. W’s gestures and facial expressions that would later become so familiar to Mrs. T.

Mary Whitehouse (pictured in 1981) was a British teacher and Conservative activist who campaigned against social liberalism and Britain's mainstream media.

Mary Whitehouse (pictured in 1981) was a British teacher and Conservative activist who campaigned against social liberalism and Britain’s mainstream media.

Whitehouse was an art teacher who occasionally taught sex education. Not that she ever mentioned sex during class, according to two former students. Quite a feat, that.

In 1964 she launched the Clean Up TV campaign, mainly in response to the changes in society reflected on the BBC.

“Last week we sat down as a family and it was the dirtiest program I’ve ever seen,” she told a talk. What were they looking at? Maybe Panorama was a little more racy back then.

You might think the modern BBC is haughty and patrician, but Ms W would surely think it’s Donald Trump with a microphone from the 1960s. That’s when then-director-general Sir Hugh Greene announced, “We are going to use this organization to change the way the rest of the country thinks. We want them to see things they don’t like. We don’t really care if they complain.

He was eventually kicked out, and out of petty revenge he bought a painting of a naked, five-breasted Mrs. Whitehouse. What a charmer.

But while she may have won the battle, she ultimately lost the war. A woman and her trusty typewriter couldn’t stop the social changes of the 1960s.

As the program cleverly observed, however, in many ways she was actually ahead of her time. Many women today might agree with his line on pornography: “Made by men, for men.”

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: Gods Of Snooker (BBC4)

Northern Ireland's Alex ''Hurricane'' Higgins relaxes between hits in 1983

Northern Ireland’s Alex ”Hurricane” Higgins relaxes between hits in 1983

Followed the career of Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, one of the game’s great entertainers. Former British champion John Virgo recalled how Higgins toned down his usual flamboyant style when playing Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis. “It didn’t feel like a hurricane so much,” Virgo said, “more like a gentle breeze.”

Becoming Parents: A Believer’s Guide (BBC1) has been designed for the whole family. The idea was to see how faith influences the delicate task of raising a child.

In this case, the parents presented were Muslims. Other confessions will follow during four other episodes. The program was crowned with beauty – Ali and Claire, from Bristol, were lovely.

Ali’s parents were nice too. A cheerful imam beamed and looked like he was having the best time of his life.

The problem is that beyond all this merriment, not much happened.

According to Islamic tradition, a new mother puts her feet up for 40 days to recuperate, while her extended family members step in and do all the work.

Ali’s family came from Qatar, dutifully carried out household chores and passed on the benefit of their experience in raising children.

Claire worried, as new moms often do, about not being able to care for a new daughter. We learned the newborn’s name. Claire went for a walk.

This is very bad of me, I know, but I yearned for some kind of controversy. Just the smallest of minor tiffs. A raised eyebrow. Nothing!

But the 40 days passed, everyone hugged and the credits rolled.

Shame on me for wishing happy family time was more like a soap opera.

Ms Whitehouse may have been right – we have been corrupted by decades of television.

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