In the early 1960s, Mrs. Mary Whitehouse, a middle-aged school teacher, begins a campaign against what she sees as filth and smut on BBC television and radio. She and a friend start knocking on doors, circulating petitions and organizing rallies. Her nemesis during this time is Sir Hugh Carleton Greene, Director General of the BBC. He thinks she is just an old busybody who has no artistic taste and doesn't represent the mainstream of British society. Throughout his tenure, which lasted several years, he refused to see her or respond to her correspondence. She continued to campaign at what she viewed as unacceptable programming until her death in 2001. Written by
The footage of Doctor Who (1963), seen on a television screen and used to depict the violence of the series, is edited to suggest that the scene takes place at the end of the episode. In fact the scene in question takes place around halfway through Doctor Who: The Tomb of the Cybermen: Episode 4 (1967). This clip is followed by part of the opening sequence, showing the title and Patrick Troughton's face. See more »
At the meeting in Birmingham Town hall the cameraman is shown setting up a Bolex 16mm silent camera. This was basically for amateurs as it would only take a 100 foot 4 minute reel. Sound could not have been recorded in sync with it. Most newsmen would have been using a Mitchell Arriflex. See more »
Sir Hugh Carleton Greene:
The woman wants to censor us, Hill. If she had her way, all we'd show would be Andy bloody Pandy - and she'd stop him climbing into that basket with Looby Loo, let alone Teddy, lest some innocent child be corrupted by the whiff of puppet troilism. And bestiality, I suppose - or *would* it be bestiality with a teddy bear rather than a real bear?
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Closing credits: "Mary continued to protest until her death in 2001, bringing high-profile cases against Gay News, the Sex Pistols, and The National Theatre, for blasphemy, obscenity and simulated sodomy. She also forced 'Top of the Pops' to transmit Chuck Berry's 'My Ding-A-Ling' with illustrations. These made it clear the ding-a-ling was a toy with bells, not a penis." See more »
Engaging, well made TV drama about a misguided but principled woman
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Early sixties Britain is still a fairly innocent place and Mary Whitehouse (Julie Walters), a suburban local art teacher and church-goer, lives a dainty little English existence in her quiet, dainty little Midlands village. But she becomes outraged by what she sees as declining standards on British TV, with more regular, casual bad language, sex talk and violence. The film portrays her real life crusade to 'clean up TV', bringing her into conflict with Hugh Greene (Hugh Bonneville) the new Programmes Commissioner at the BBC, who's moving with the times more and showing programmes more suited to the changing social attitudes.
It's interesting to note what a puritanical society we used to be not really so long ago, especially when we comment on the Americans and their prudish standards they still have on mainstream TV. Maybe it's the age I've been raised in but I've always been one for freedom of expression and mature adults being allowed to see what they want, so Mary Whitehouse was never a character that was going to agree with me. But even if you think her campaigns were misguided, you have to admire her determination and conviction of her will, which this very well made TV drama has portrayed.
The main thing that drives it is two superb lead performances. In the title role, Walters gives it her all as the quaint English lady with an unwavering moral compass who is forced to come to terms with society's changing ideals, attitudes, morals and beliefs while leading her campaign and similarly Bonneville is also great as the arrogant TV chief who bites off more than he can chew with the little guy.
Both the characters are very well written too, along with the script, which really gets you involved with the story, which is engaging and enthralling but refreshingly humorous, too, although in a manner risqué enough, ironically, to get Mrs Whitehouse up in arms about. ****
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