To Glasgow, and the Aye Write book festival, in the company of Mr Colin McLaren, ace screenwriter. Our chosen event was a Q&A with Graeme Garden, star/writer of The Goodies, our favourite childhood TV show next to Dr Who.
As part of the packed ninety-minute discussion, Garden screened three clips, chosen by each of the Goodies as their favourite moments from the show. This was his ~
“The closest thing we did to a sketch,” was how he described it (although the show featured excellent spoof commercials that might qualify.” In the show, the boys are commissioned by a thinly-veiled parody of renowned bluenose Mary Whitehouse to make a sex education film with no sex in it.
Whitehouse had no official position as censor, but was just a horrifying busybody member of the public. Her organisation, the Viewers and Listeners Association (now MediaWatch), campaigned against smut, getting a lot of attention in the seventies. An elderly retiree member led the obscenity case against LAST TANGO IN PARIS, seemingly under the impression that the film was a documentary showing real events. This delusional mindset seems to haunt the organisation’s members. Actual dialogue from one TV documentary (two little old ladies, formerly active members) ~
“Sex seemed to be the biggest problem in those days.”
“Sex always leads to violence.”
“And the crime that goes with it.”
My most treasured moment of Mrs Whitehouse madness came on a discussion show where she took exception to PSYCHO II: her critique appears at the end of this piece, and I feel it grants special insight into the confusions inherent in the would-be censor’s thinking.
The Goodies always claimed that it was their life’s ambition to offend Mrs Whitehouse, and they were mortified when they discovered they’d received a letter of appreciation from her after their first series, which she deemed suitably anodyne for televisual broadcast. The episode parodying her (with the great Beryl Reid as Mrs W) didn’t manage to offend her, but finally the image of Tim Brooke-Taylor wearing a pair of underpants with a picture of a carrot on the front provoked the required shock and outrage.