Ban This Filth! Letters from the Mary Whitehouse Archive by Ben Thompson (Ed) - review by Francis Wheen

Francis Wheen

Scourge of Obscenity

Ban This Filth! Letters from the Mary Whitehouse Archive

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Although Mary Whitehouse was often portrayed as a prudish busybody, a latter-day Dr Bowdler or Mrs Grundy, she preferred to see herself as a Christian martyr. Her Clean-Up TV campaign, later renamed the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, sprang from the creepy Moral Re-Armament cult of which both Whitehouse and her husband, Ernest, were devotedly evangelical members. ‘This’, she wrote in her diary, ‘is the Cross – to realise there is no glamour, no appreciation to be asked or expected, nothing but ridicule, pain and loss … it is in this loneliness, and this alone, that one finds Christ.’ 

It was the events of 1963 that spurred her into action – the Profumo scandal, the satire boom, and what she called ‘a stream of suggestive and erotic plays [on television] which present promiscuity, infidelity and drinking as normal and inevitable’. As she wrote with characteristically crazy overstatement in one

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