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Tony Grist

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Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story [May. 29th, 2008|10:23 am]
Tony Grist
The BBC has made its peace with Mary Whitehouse. Well, why not? She's been dead for seven years. And in a way I'm glad. A play that made fun of her would have been too easy. And no doubt the private woman was as funny, clever, vulnerable and brave as she was made to seem in Julie Walters' magnificent performance.

But what about the caricaturing of her chief adversary, BBC Director General Hugh Greene- who became the pompous authority figure to her plucky little everywoman- Pantaloon to her Harlequin- so much so that the logic of the drama had us cheering her final victory? By all means whitewash Whitehouse, but  turning Greene- on her terms- into a buffoonish villain?

Something wrong there, surely?

But perhaps it was only by misrepresenting Greene that the play could be made to work. Drama demands that adversaries be- more or less- equally weighted. So Greene had to be brought down to Whitehouse's level.  In real life there was no contest at all: he was completely, thunderously right and she was completely, pettifoggingly wrong. He stood for artistic and intellectual freedom, she stood for fear and avoidance. This was the woman who- for example- wanted to bleep the word "knickers" out of "I Am The Walrus".

Generosity to a fallen foe? 

Only Mrs Whitehouse isn't fallen. She's an eternal type. She may not wear silly hats any more, but she's still buzzing around our culture-  picketing, banning, legislating- what a pest!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2008-05-29 06:45 pm (UTC)
I recently added on BBC in America with my cable subscription, and how disappointing! All that appears to be available is junk like "What's in Your Attic?" and house renovation programs. I thought I would see fine theater and music and at, the least, some comedy!

Oh, well: the high drama of our primary presidential contest is entertaining enough for the moment.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-29 06:49 pm (UTC)
Oh dear.

I quite like "What's in Your Attic" but I agree it's hardly quality TV.

Do they offer Dr Who?
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2008-05-29 06:55 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about Dr Who, but we do have Public TV here, and I think Dr Who's on it, as well as Saturday night British comedies.
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From: senordildo
2008-05-30 03:50 am (UTC)
Was Greene the one who said "Some people deserve to be offended"? If so he deserves a medal.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-05-30 08:58 am (UTC)
I've no idea- but it sounds in character.

I don't know much about him really, except that he presided over an era of creativity and experiment at the BBC and was therefore almost certainly a good egg.
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