Doomwatch's Anne Tarrant and Spencer Quist are placed on a government committee investigating whether the UK's censorship laws should be revised. The committee's work brings them into ... See full summary »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Paul ...
Elizabeth Weaver ...
John Barron ...
John Bown ...
Commander Neil Stafford
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Vivien Sherrard ...
Barbara Mason
Nicholas Selby ...
Arthur Ballantyne
June Brown ...
Mrs. Catchpole
Donald Eccles ...
Lord Purvis
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Steven Granger
Angela Crow ...
Noel Dyson ...
Mrs. Angela Cressy
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Prof. Fairbairn
Llewellyn Rees ...
Rev. Charles Garrison
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Dick Burns (as Christopher Chittell)
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Doomwatch's Anne Tarrant and Spencer Quist are placed on a government committee investigating whether the UK's censorship laws should be revised. The committee's work brings them into contact with both anti-pornography pressure groups and a man who hopes to one day be a dictator.

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Sci-Fi | Drama

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The film footage of public executions in Nigeria which is shown to the committee, is genuine news film which was in fact transmitted on the BBC news programme '24 Hours' on Tuesday 21 September 1971. See more »

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"Ban this filth!"
28 January 2010 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

Created by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, the B.B.C.'s 'Doomwatch' was a sci-fi drama based on the exploits of a fictitious Government department, headed by Dr.Spencer Quist ( John Paul ), set up to combat the abuse of science. The show was a cross between 'The Avengers', 'The Power Game', and 'The X-Files'. Pedler and Davis had previously worked on 'Dr.Who' where they had created the Cybermen, second only to the Daleks as the Doctor's greatest arch-enemies.

'Sex & Violence', the last episode ever made, went unbroadcast due to it featuring actual footage of a military execution. The story itself centres on a pressure group engaged on a moral crusade against pornography, and its attempts to influence the findings of a Government committee. They want nothing less than a change in the law. This mirrored what was happening in the U.K. at that time, with Mrs.Mary Whitehouse, Lord Longford and even Cliff Richard united in a similar cause. While it is not one of the best episodes, it nevertheless raises a number of intriguing questions.

There is a scene where Ballantyne ( Nicholas Selby ), the right-wing politician financing the group, openly admits to Quist that he wishes to deflect voters' minds off real issues such as a failing economy and mass unemployment. In the early '80's, the total stood at three million, and the country was enveloped in a protracted debate about so-called 'video nasties', with some video rental shop owners prosecuted for stocking titles such as 'Driller Killer' and 'I Spit On Your Grave'. We were told at the time these evil films had a corrupting effect on young minds. Nowadays you can buy them quite openly. Most young people probably find them poorly made and amusing. In the mid-90's, when the 'video nasty' fuss had died down, another moral crusade got underway - John Major's 'Back To Basics' ( which backfired spectacularly ). It will be interesting to see whether David Cameron, if elected P.M. this year ( as many expect him to be ) goes down the same road.

Stuart Douglass' script is well written, yet you cannot escape the feeling that the characters exist only as mouthpieces for their views. June Brown's 'Mrs.Catchpole' is the 'Whitehouse' figure; not only in favour of banning sex and violence, but also the country being run by businessmen! Angela Crow plays a sexually repressed housewife who attacks a woman going to see an 'Oh Calcutta!'-type play. 'Emmerdale' star Chris Chittell ( who plays 'Eric Pollard' ) is cast as a pop icon supporting the campaign. Also around are Brian Wilde and Bernard Horsfall. The episode is little more than a fictionalised debate, achieving little that a real one could not have managed.

The committee decides to keep the law as it is, a rare victory for common sense. Quist's conclusion is particularly thought-provoking - he points that Hitler was voted into power by a big majority, while only a decade earlier he was a national laughing stock. Funny how things turn out...


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