Mary Whitehouse in 1981
|Born||Constance Mary Hutcheson
13 June 1910
|Died||23 November 2001
|Alma mater||Chester City Grammar School.
Cheshire County Teacher Training College
|Organization||National Viewers' and Listeners' Association|
|Political movement||Social conservatism
Nationwide Festival of Light
|Spouse(s)||Ernest Raymond Whitehouse (m. 1940-2000)|
Constance Mary Whitehouse, CBE (born Constance Mary Hutcheson, 13 June 1910 – 23 November 2001) was an English social activist known for her opposition to social liberalism and the mainstream British media, both of which she accused of encouraging a more permissive society. She was the founder and first president of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, through which she led a long standing campaign against the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). A staunch social conservative, the motivation for her activities derived from her traditional Christian beliefs and her work as a teacher of sex education.
Born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Whitehouse became an art teacher, at the same time becoming involved in evangelical Christian groups such as the Student Christian Movement and Moral Re-Armament. She became a public figure via the 'Clean-Up TV' pressure group, established in 1964, in which she was the most prominent figure. The following year she founded the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, using it as a platform to criticise the BBC for what she perceived as a lack of accountability, and excessive portrayals of sex, violence and bad language. As a result, she became an object of mockery in the media, especially by the BBC.
During the 1970s she broadened her activities, and was a leading figure in the Nationwide Festival of Light, a Christian campaign which gained mass support for a period. She initiated a successful private prosecution against Gay News on the grounds of blasphemous libel, the first such case for more than fifty years. Another private prosecution was brought against the director of the play The Romans in Britain, which had been performed at the National Theatre. On this second occasion she withdrew when it became clear she was about to lose.
The campaigns of Mary Whitehouse continue to divide opinion. Her critics have accused her of being a highly censorious figure and homophobic. Others see her more positively. According to Ben Thompson, the editor of an anthology of Whitehouse related letters, in 2012: "From Mumsnet to ... feminist anti-pornography campaigns [and] the executive naming and shaming strategies of UK Uncut, her ideological and tactical influence has been discernible in all sorts of unexpected places in recent years."
Early life 
Born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, Hutcheson won a scholarship to Chester City Grammar School. On leaving, she did two years of unpaid apprentice teaching at St John's School, Chester, and attended the Cheshire County Teacher Training College in Crewe, specialising in secondary school art teaching. Hutcheson was involved with the Student Christian Movement before qualifying in 1932. She became an art teacher at Lichfield Road School, Wednesfield, Staffordshire, where she stayed for eight years.
She joined the Oxford Group, later known as Moral Re-Armament (MRA), in the 1930s. At MRA meetings, she met Ernest Raymond Whitehouse; they married in 1940 and remained married until Ernest's death, in Colchester, aged 87, in 2000. The couple had five sons, two of whom (twins) died in infancy.
After raising her sons in their earliest years, Whitehouse returned to teaching in 1953.That same year, she broadcast on Woman's Hour on the day before the coronation of Elizabeth II "as a loyal housewife and subject" and wrote an extensive article on homosexuality for The Sunday Times. This concerned, according to Ben Thompson how a mother might "best avoid inadvertently pressuring her sons towards that particular orientation", and gained enough attention to be republished as a pamphlet.
She taught art at Madeley Modern School in Shropshire from 1960, in due course taking up responsibility for sex education. Shocked at the response of her pupils to moral issues, she became concerned about what she and many others perceived as declining moral standards in the British media, especially in the BBC.
"Clean Up TV" campaign and the NVALA 
Mary Whitehouse began her activism in 1963 with a letter to the BBC requesting to see Hugh Greene, the BBC's Director General. Greene was out of the country at the time, so she accepted an invitation to meet Harman Grisewood, his deputy, a Roman Catholic who she felt listened to her with understanding, but over the next few months she continued to be dissatisfied with what she saw on television. With Norah Buckland, the wife of a vicar, she launched the 'Clean Up TV Campaign' in January 1964 with a manifesto appealing to the "women of Britain". The campaign's first public meeting on 5 May 1964 was held in Birmingham's Town Hall. Richard Whitehouse, one of her sons, recalled in 2008: "Coaches arrived from all over the country. Two thousand people poured in and suddenly there was my mother on a podium inspiring them to rapturous applause. Her hands were shaking. But she didn't stop". Although he regularly clashed with Whitehouse, the academic Richard Hoggart shared some of her opinions and was present on the platform with her at this first public meeting. The Times commented in the following day's edition: "Perhaps never before in the history of the Birmingham Town Hall has such a successful meeting been sponsored by such a flimsy organisation".
Sir Hugh Greene, knighted in January 1964, became her bête noire. He was, according to Whitehouse, "more than anybody else [...] responsible for the moral collapse in this country". The CUTV manifesto claimed that the BBC under Greene spread "the propaganda of disbelief, doubt and dirt ... promiscuity, infidelity and drinking". In place of this, the authors argued, the Corporation's activities should "encourage and sustain faith in God and bring Him back to the hearts of our family and national life." The 'Clean Up TV' petition, using the manifesto, gained a total of 500,000 signatures. Whitehouse complained in 1993 that during Hugh Greene's period at the BBC, "hardly a week went by without a sniping reference to me". Whitehouse's critics responded quickly. The playwright David Turner had heckled her at the Birmingham Town Hall; his work was criticised during the meeting, and within a few months Swizzlewick, a twice-weekly series he had created, featured a parody of her.
In a speech given in 1965 Greene argued, not naming Mrs Whitehouse directly, that the critics of his liberalisation of broadcasting policy would "attack whatever does not underwrite a set of prior assumptions", and saw the potential for "a dangerous form of censorship...which works by causing artists and writers not to take risks." He defended the right of the Corporation "to be ahead of public opinion." Sir Hugh Greene himself ignored Whitehouse, blocked her from participation in BBC broadcasts and purchased a painting of Whitehouse with five breasts by James Lawrence Isherwood.
The National Viewers' and Listeners' Association (now known as Mediawatch-UK) was formally launched to succeed the CUTV campaign in November 1965, replacing what they themselves perceived as CUTV's negativity with an active campaign for legislative change. The NVALA eventually gained about 150,000 members.
Through the letters she frequently sent to Harold Wilson, then Prime Minister, Whitehouse caused particular difficulties for civil servants at 10 Downing Street. These letters expressed her belief that, through the Royal Charter, ultimate responsibility for BBC output lay with the Government, rather than with the BBC's governors, whom she felt to be failing in their duties. For some time Downing Street intentionally "lost" her letters to avoid having to respond to them. Geoffrey Robertson, QC, suggests that when Greene left the BBC, in 1969, contrary to the view that it was because of disagreements over the appointment of the Conservative Lord Hill as BBC chairman in 1967, whereby she could be given some credit for his departure, it was more to do with a political struggle between the BBC and Wilson. However, Hill was prepared to meet Whitehouse at Broadcasting House.
From the mid-1960s to 1980 
Whitehouse criticised the work of Dennis Potter from Son of Man (1969) onwards, arguing that the BBC was at the centre "of a conspiracy to remove the myth of god from the minds of men", and also A Clockwork Orange (1971). In the case of the violence in A Clockwork Orange, she rejected any attempt to show a 'copycat' correlation in academic studies, but urged its acceptance as a fact arrived at by common sense.
The satirical comedy Till Death Us Do Part attacked many of the things Whitehouse cherished. She objected to its profane language: "I doubt if many people would use 121 bloodies in half-an-hour", and "Bad language coarsens the whole quality of our life. It normalises harsh, often indecent language, which despoils our communication." Whitehouse and the NVALA won a libel action with a full apology and substantial damages against the series' writer, Johnny Speight, after he implied in an interview that the organisation's members and its head were fascists. Shortly after the court case was concluded she was mocked in an episode of the series itself entitled "Alf's Dilemma" (27 February 1967) where Alf Garnett is seen reading her book Cleaning Up TV and agreeing with every word. She was also critical of comedians such as Benny Hill and his use of dancers; she described Dave Allen as "offensive, indecent and embarrassing" after a comic account of a conversation following sexual intercourse. In return, comedy writers during this era did see her as possessing humorous potential. The Goodies comedy team created an episode of their series entitled "Gender Education" (1971) with the principal objective of irritating her.
Chuck Berry's novelty song "My Ding-a-Ling" was one of several pop songs to receive Whitehouse's disapproval in this period. She was unsuccessful in trying to persuade the BBC to ban it, but her campaign to stop Alice Cooper's "School's Out" being featured on Top of the Pops was successful. Cooper sent her a bunch of flowers for he believed the publicity helped the song to reach number one. Despite the connection, in 1977 the regular presenter of TOTP in this era, Jimmy Savile, won an award from NVALA for his "wholesome family entertainment" on Jim'll Fix It.
War coverage met her ire. During his brief period as editor of Panorama (1965-66), Jeremy Isaacs received a letter from Whitehouse complaining about his decision to repeat Richard Dimbleby's coverage of the liberation of the Belsen concentration camp. She complained about this "filth" being allowed on air as "it was bound to shock and offend". In a 1994 interview, Whitehouse continued to maintain that it was "an awful intrusion" and "very off-putting".
The Vietnam War, "the first 'television war'", received extensive coverage during the early part of her public career. She felt such war coverage proved the medium was "an ally of pacifism". In a 1970 speech to the Royal College of Nursing she argued: "However good the cause ... the horrific effects on men and terrain of modern warfare as seen on the television screen could well sap the will of a nation to safeguard its own freedom, let alone resist the forces of evil abroad." Trying to reconcile this "pacifism" with her objection to fictional violence, she saw such news coverage as "desensitisation" in which the media use the "techniques of violence" to raise "impact" in order "to satisfy an apparently insatiable demand for realism."
She claimed that Doctor Who had nightmarish qualities, saying it "contains some of the sickest, most horrible material" and describing it as "teatime brutality for tots". Between 1975 and 1977, while Tom Baker played the Doctor and Philip Hinchcliffe was the series producer, she made complaints about several serials. A dramatic incident in "The Seeds of Doom" led to her claiming: "Strangulation – by hand, by claw, by obscene vegetable matter – is the latest gimmick, sufficiently close up so they get the point. And just for a little variety show the children how to make a Molotov Cocktail." Following "The Deadly Assassin" in 1976, she wrote again to the BBC about the content of the serial and received an apology from Director-General Charles Curran. The freeze-frame ending to the third episode, in which Tom Baker appeared to be drowning, was subsequently edited. The BBC ordered the series' next producer, Graham Williams, to lighten the tone and reduce the violence and horror following Whitehouse's complaints. Senior television executives commented that at this time her views were not disregarded lightly.
Philip Hinchcliffe later remarked, "I always felt that Mary Whitehouse thought of Doctor Who as a children's programme, for little children, and it wasn't... so she was really coming at the show from the wrong starting-point." Elisabeth Sladen, who portrayed Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who, said the "flak from Mary Whitehouse...was quite unwarranted. I think the kind of person who would have been upset by Doctor Who would have been upset by anything."
After 1980 
Whitehouse also criticised the ITV adventure/drama series Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986). Simon Farquhar, in an obituary for The Independent of the series' creator, Richard Carpenter, wrote that Whitehouse "objected to the [show's] relentless slaughter and blasphemous religious elements, but was deftly silenced by Carpenter in public when he introduced himself to her and the audience by saying "I'm Richard Carpenter, and I'm a professional writer. And you're a professional... what?""
Whitehouse's supporters have asserted that the Whitehouse campaigns helped end Channel 4's "red triangle" series of films in 1986; claimed by Channel 4 to be intended to warn viewers of material liable to cause offence, the broadcasting of these films with the triangle had also received criticism from non-supporters of Whitehouse. She was also said to have had a role in the 1990 extension of the Broadcasting Act and the establishment of the Broadcasting Standards Council, which later became the Broadcasting Standards Commission (in 2004, this was subsumed into the Office of Communications). William Rees-Mogg, the first chairman of the BSC, commended her involvement in ensuring that "the public view was always taken into account".
In 1990, while being interviewed In the Psychiatrist's Chair on BBC Radio, Whitehouse, confusing the playwright with his hero in The Singing Detective, claimed that Dennis Potter's mother had "committed adultery with a strange man and that the shock of witnessing this had caused her son to be afflicted" with psoriatic arthropathy. Potter's mother won substantial damages from the BBC and The Listener.
Other campaigns and private prosecutions 
Whitehouse had taken up other campaigns against the permissive society by the early 1970s. She objected to the UK edition of The Little Red Schoolbook, "a manual of children's rights" on sex, drugs and attitudes to adults, which was successfully prosecuted for obscenity in July 1971. It had originally been published in Denmark where, according to Whitehouse, it had done "incalculable damage" and was "a revolutionary primer", in which "open rebellion against the 'system', be it school, parents or authority generally, was openly advocated, while children were constantly exhorted to collect evidence against teachers of alleged injustices or anything which was likely to enhance revolution." She was "greatly relieved - for the sake of the children" at the £50 fine and £115.50 costs imposed on Richard Handyside and Geoffrey Collins, its publishers, who also had works by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro on their small list of publications. For Whitehouse it was a "fundamental right of a child to be a child" and "the duty of mature people to ensure that childhood is protected against the inroads of those who would exploit its immaturity for political, social or personal gain."
Along with the (Catholic) Labour peer Lord Longford, Malcolm Muggeridge and Cliff Richard, Whitehouse was a leading figure in the Nationwide Festival of Light, which protested against the commercial exploitation of sex and violence in Britain. The Festival's mass "rally against permissiveness" in Trafalgar Square was attended by 50,000 people in September 1971. That same year she had an audience with Pope Paul VI regarding 'moral pollution'.
Following the release on appeal of the defendants in the Oz trial, "an unmitigated disaster for the children of our country", Whitehouse launched the Nationwide Petition for Public Decency in January 1972, which had gained 1.35 million signatures by the time it was presented to Edward Heath in April 1973. She had around 300 speaking engagements during the period of her highest profile. In 1975 Whitehouse, a pornographic magazine, was launched by publisher David Sullivan.
Gay News 
Whitehouse used private prosecutions in a number of cases where an official action was not forthcoming. She was the plaintiff in a charge of blasphemous libel against Gay News in 1977 (Whitehouse v. Lemon). It was the first prosecution for the offence since 1922. "I simply had to protect Our Lord," said Mrs Whitehouse at the time, though both the Archbishop of Canterbury Donald Coggan and Cardinal Basil Hume declined Whitehouse's invitation for them to give evidence at the trial.
The private prosecution concerned "The Love that Dares to Speak its Name", a poem by James Kirkup, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the theme of which was the sexual fantasies of a Roman Centurion about the body of Jesus Christ. Denis Lemon, the editor and owner of Gay News, had published the poem on the basis that the "message and intention of the poem was to celebrate the absolute universality of God's love."
Gay News lost the case; the jury decided the case on a 10-2 majority. Lemon and his paper were fined, with Lemon receiving a nine-month suspended prison sentence. A Guardian editorial after the verdict said of the trial: "No evidence was called, or allowed to be called, about the merits of the poem in literature or theology", despite the case concerning blasphemy, or to suggest that Kirkup's intention had been to "scandalise" which, given the poet's "list of serious works", the newspaper thought should have been proven. The Court of Appeal and the House of Lords dismissed appeals, although Lemon’s sentence was quashed.
Geoffrey Robertson, QC, the barrister for Gay News in the case, described Whitehouse as homophobic in The Times in 2008, saying: "Her fear of homosexuals was visceral". He describes the beliefs she reveals in her book, Whatever Happened to Sex?, as "nonsense", such as her assertion that "homosexuality was caused by abnormal parental sex 'during pregnancy or just after'", saying that for her, "being gay was like having acne: 'Psychiatric literature proves that 60 per cent of homosexuals who go for treatment get completely cured'”. The Scotsman, in 2008, while asking whether society might have benefited from Whitehouse's campaign, also pointed to this case when it said "Whitehouse’s views on homosexuality were extraordinarily prejudiced."
The Romans in Britain 
In 1982 she pursued another private prosecution, this time against Michael Bogdanov, the director of a National Theatre production of Howard Brenton's The Romans in Britain, a play that "drew a direct parallel between the Roman invasion of Celtic Britain in 54 BC and the contemporary British presence in Northern Ireland." The first act contains "a brief scene" of (simulated) anal rape, but the Police had visited the production three times and found no basis for legal action. In the private prosecution Whitehouse's counsel claimed Section 13 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, which described the offence of "procuring an act of gross indecency", was applicable. Because this was a general Act, there was no possibility of defence on the basis of artistic merit, unlike that permitted under the Obscene Publications Act.
Since Whitehouse had not herself seen the play, the prosecution evidence rested on the testimony of her solicitor, Graham Ross-Cornes, who claimed he saw the actor's penis, but had seen the play from the back row of the stalls 90 feet from the stage. Lord Hutchinson, counsel for Bogdanov, was able to demonstrate the nature of the illusion performed on stage. This was achieved by suggesting that it may have been the actor's thumb protruding from his fist, rather than his erect penis. The defence had argued that the Act did not apply to the theatre; the judge Mr Justice Staughton then ruled that it did. After three days, the action was withdrawn after the prosecution counsel told Whitehouse that he was unable to continue with the case; the litigation was ended by the Attorney General putting forward a plea of nolle prosequi. However, both sides claimed a victory; Whitehouse's side asserted that the important legal point had been made with the ruling on the applicability of the Sexual Offences Act, while Bogdanov said it was because she knew that he would not be convicted. Mrs Whitehouse had to meet £20,000 costs, most of which was paid by an anonymous donor.
The case was the subject of a radio play, Mark Lawson's The Third Soldier Holds His Thighs, on BBC Radio 4 in 2005. Whitehouse's account of the trial is recorded in A Most Dangerous Woman (ISBN 0-85648-540-3); she wrote that she was of the opinion that the legal point had been established, and they had no wish to criminalise Bogdanov, the play's director.
Margaret Thatcher's government 
By the 1980s, Mary Whitehouse had found a more powerful ally in the Conservative government, particularly in Margaret Thatcher herself, whose government's support base partially consisted of Christians and social conservatives. Despite this, it has been claimed that the market orientation of the Thatcher government prejudiced it against Whitehouse in private.
It has been claimed though, by commentators not necessarily in agreement with her, that Whitehouse's efforts played a part in the passage of the Protection of Children Act 1978, the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981, which concerned sex shops, and the Video Recordings Act 1984 which banned 'video nasties'. A term reportedly coined by Whitehouse, she screened edited highlights from these films for MPs at the House of Commons in late 1983, which included extracts from The Evil Dead (1981) considered by her "the number one nasty". It was "a highly effective means of lobbying the Thatcher government to introduce tight state controls on the burgeoning video industry".
Later years and assessments of her influence 
Mary Whitehouse was appointed a CBE in 1980. In 1988, she suffered a spinal injury in a fall, which severely curbed her campaigning activities. Whitehouse retired as president of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association in 1994; the Association was renamed Mediawatch-UK in 2001. She died, aged 91, in a nursing home in Colchester, Essex, on 23 November 2001.
The journalist Mary Kenny believes "Mary Whitehouse was a significant figure. Some of her battles were justified, even prophetic. Today her attacks on ‘kiddie porn’ would be widely supported." Despite earlier clashes, Michael Grade said of her: "She was very witty, she was a great debater, she was very courageous and she had a very sincere view, but it was out of touch entirely with the real world."
The comedian Bernard Manning also commented, "She'll be sadly missed, I imagine, but not by me." The academic Richard Hoggart observed: "her main focus was on sex, followed by bad language and violence. Odd: if she had reversed the order, she might have been more effective."
Writing in the Dictionary of National Biography, the philosopher Mary Warnock opined, "Even if her campaigning did not succeed in ‘cleaning up TV’, still less in making it more fit to watch in other ways, she was of serious intent, and was an influence for good at a crucial stage in the development both of the BBC and of ITV. She was not, as the BBC seemed officially to proclaim, a mere figure of fun."
Whitehouse's early campaign and her disagreements with the BBC under Sir Hugh Greene were the basis of a drama first broadcast in 2008 entitled Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, written by Amanda Coe. Julie Walters played the part of Mary Whitehouse, Alun Armstrong played her husband Ernest, and Hugh Bonneville played Greene. Her own favourite programmes were Dixon of Dock Green, Neighbours, and coverage of snooker.
See also 
- Culture Wars
- Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story
- John Beyer
- Whitehouse v Lemon
- The Pink Floyd song "Pigs (Three Different Ones)"
- Robert Aldrich; Garry Wotherspoon (2001). Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History Vol.2: From World War II to the Present Day. Routledge. p. 442. ISBN 0-203-99408-6.
- Ben Thompson "Ban this filth!", Financial Times, 9 November 2012
- Obituary, Daily Telegraph, 24 November 2001
- "England and Wales Deaths 1984-2006". Findmypast.com. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- Mary Warnock "Whitehouse [née Hutcheson], (Constance) Marywhitehouse, Mary", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Jonathan Brown "Mary Whitehouse: To some a crank, to others a warrior", The Independent, 24 November 2001
- Tracey and Morrison Whitehouse, London: Macmillan, 1979, p.41
- Asa Briggs The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, Volume 5, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, p.332, 334
- David Winter Obituary, The Independent, 24 November 2001
- Elizabeth Udall "Mary Whitehouse: 'Sometimes I denied she was my mother'", Daily Telegraph, 27 May 2008
- Richard Hoggart "Valid arguments lost in an obsession over sex", The Guardian, 24 November 2001. Hoggart is mistaken here in thinking he could have referred to Dennis Potter's plays on 5 May 1964, as Potter's earliest work in this form, The Confidence Course, was not transmitted until 24 February 1965.
- The Times, 6 May 1964, cited by Tracey and Morrison, p.44
- Michael Tracey The Production of Political Television, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978, p.159
- Dennis Barker "Mary Whitehouse: Self-appointed campaigner against the permissive society on television", The Guardian, 24 November 2001
- Mary Whitehouse quoted by David Stubbs "The moral minority", The Guardian, 24 May 2008
- Quoted in Dominic Sandbrook White Heat, London: Little, Brown, 2006, p.544
- The full manifesto is quoted by Roy Shaw in "Television: Freedom and Responsibility", New Blackfriars, no.553, June 1966, p.453
- Reprinted in Sir Hugh Greene The Third Floor Front: A View of Broadcasting in the Sixties, London: The Bodley Head, 1969, p.100-1
- Michael Tracey and David Morrison Whitehouse, London: Macmillan, 1979, p.47
- Alan Travis Bound and Gagged: A Secret History of Censorship in Britain, Profile Books, 2000, p231-2
- Robertson, Geoffrey (24 May 2008). "The Mary Whitehouse Story: Mary, quite contrary". Times (London).
- Robert Hewison Too Much: Art and Society in the Sixties, 1960-75, New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, p.33 (Published by Methuen, London in 1986)
- Quoted by Boris Ford The Cambridge Cultural History of Britain: Modern Britain, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p.24
- Michael Tracey and David Morrison Whitehouse, London: Macmillan, 1979, p.84
- Mark Ward "A Family at War: Till Death Do Us Part", The Main Event (Kaleidoscope brochure) 1996
- Patrick Newley Obituary: Dave Allen, The Stage, 15 March 2005
- Coleman, Sarah (February 2002). "Morals Campaigner Mary Whitehouse". World Press Review. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- See also Ben Thompson (ed.) Ban This Filth!: Letters from the Mary Whitehouse Archive", London: Faber, 2012 cited by "Ban This Filth!: Letters from the Mary Whitehouse Archive by Ben Thompson – review", The Guardian, 26 October 2012
- Mark Lawson Talks to...: "Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Alice Cooper in conversation with Mark Lawson", BBC Four, November 2011
- Martin Fletcher "Ban This Filth! Letters from the Mary Whitehouse Archive, Edited by Ben Thompson", The Independent, 10 November 2012
- Alan Rosenthal The New Documentary in Action: a Casebook in Film Making, Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1972, p.95, 96
- Allison Pearson "Television: Mary, Mary, quite contrary ", The Independent, 29 May 1994. The interviews with Isaacs and Whitehouse were contained within The Late Show: The Mary Whitehouse Story, which was, according to the BFI Film & TV database, transmitted on 23 May 1994. See the BFI site also for a synopsis of this programme.
- A much used description, see for example Daniel Hallin "Vietnam on Television", The Museum of Broadcast Communications website
- Mary Whitehouse 'Promoting Violence', Royal College of Nursing in the UK Professional Conference, The Violent Society, 5 April 1970, quoted in Tracey and Morrison Whitehouse, London: Macmillan, 1979, p.86-87, 205, n.27
- "David Maloney". The Independent (London). 10 August 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Mary Whitehouse quoted by Dominic Sandbrook State of Emergency, The Way We Were: Britain 1970-74, London: Allen Lane, 2010, p.461-62
- The full quote is in Tracey and Morrison, p.85
- ""Whitehouse 'kept TV on its toes'", BBC obituary, 23 November 2001". BBC News. 2001-11-23. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- Documentary on the DVD "Doctor Who: The Pyramids of Mars", BBC Worldwide, 2004
- Simon Farquhar "Obituary: Richard Carpenter: Actor and writer famed for 'Catweazle' and 'The Ghosts of Motley Hall'", The Independent, 10 March 2012
- "Mary Whitehouse: Moral crusader or spoilsport?" BBC News, 23 November 2001
- Ben Thompson Ban This Filth!: Letters from the Mary Whitehouse Archive, London: Faber, 2012 cited by Stuart Jeffries "Ban This Filth!: Letters from the Mary Whitehouse Archive by Ben Thompson – review", The Guardian, 26 October 2012
- Mark Lawson "Watching the detective", The Guardian, 31 October 2003.
- John R. Cook Dennis Potter: A Life on Screen, Manchester University Press, 1998, p.350, n.82
- Jonathon Green All Dressed Up: The Sixties and the Counterculture, London: Pimlico, 1999, p.349 (Originally published by Jonathan Cape in 1998)
- Daily Telegraph, 29 March 1971, quote as reproduced in Tracey and Morrison, p.134
- Whitehouse (1977) p.181, quoted in Tony McEnery Swearing in English: Bad Language, Purity and Power From 1586 to the Present Day, London: Routlege, 2006, p.143
- Whitehouse (1977) p.180, cited in McEnery, p.143
- John Sutherland Offensive Literature, Junction Books, 1982, p.111, 113
- Letter from Mary Whitehouse, The Spectator, 7 August 1971, quoted in Tracey and Morrison, p.138
- Mark Duguid "Whitehouse, Mary (1910-2001)", BFI screenonline
- Evening Standard, 6 November 1971, quote as reproduced in Tracey and Morrison, p.135, 207 n.6:14
- Dominic Sandbrook State of Emergency, The Way We Were: Britain 1970-74, London: Allen Lane, 2010, p.462
- Roy Greenslade Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits From Propaganda, London: Macmillan, 2004 , p.490
- Jamie Doward "Top shelf gathers dust", The Observer, 13 May 2001
- Corinna Adam "Protecting Our Lord", New Statesman, 15 July 1977, in a version republished 3 February 2006
- Obituary: James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph, 12 May 2009
- Peter Burton Obituary: Denis Lemon, The Independent, 23 July 1994
- Editorial "From the archive, 13 July 1977: Editorial: Is the law on blasphemy still relevant?", The Guardian, 13 JHuly 2012 (reprint)
- "James Kirkup: poet and translator". Times (London). 13 May 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Cowling, Emma (18 May 2008). "Maybe Mary Whitehouse was right all along". Scotsman.
- Michael Billington State of the Nation: British Theatre Since 1945, London: Faber, 2007, p.305
- Howard Brenton "Look back in anger", The Guardian, 28 January 2006
- Mark Lawson "Passion play", The Guardian, 28 October 2005
- "BBC "On This Day", 18 March". BBC News. 1967-03-18. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- Bruce Anderson "A life spent trying in vain to preserve the suburban idyll", The Independent, 26 November 2001
- Andrew Holmes "Let there be blood", THe Guardian, 5 July 2002
- Richard Stanley "Dying Light: An Obituary for the Great British Horror Movie" in Steve Chibnall and Julian Petley (eds.) British Horror Cinema, London: Routledge, 2002, p.184
- Mary Kenny "In defence of Mary Whitehouse", The Spectator (blog), 10 June 2010
- "''Campaigner Mary Whitehouse dies, aged 91'' John Ezard, The Guardian, Saturday 24 November 2001". London: Guardian. 2001-11-24. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- NVALA Archive, Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex
- "National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, Archive Hub website
- Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story BBC2
- Ben Dowell "Mary Whitehouse drama heads for BBC", The Guardian, 21 July 2008
- Ramsey Campbell (1987) "Turn Off: The Whitehouse Way" (an account of a public appearance by Mary Whitehouse) in Ramsey Campbell, Probably, PS Publishing, ISBN 1-902880-40-4
- Max Caulfield (1976) Mary Whitehouse, Mowbray, ISBN 0-264-66190-7
- Geoffrey Robertson (1999) The Justice Game, Random House UK. (A memoir of a prominent barrister who, among other historic trials, defended several of Whitehouse's targets in her private prosecutions).
- Ben Thompson (ed. 2012) Ban This Filth!: Letters From the Mary Whitehouse Archive, Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0571281497
- Michael Tracey & David Morrison (1979) Whitehouse, Macmillan, ISBN 0-333-23790-0
- Mary Whitehouse (1967) Cleaning-up TV: From Protest to Participation, Blandford, ISBN B0000CNC3I
- Mary Whitehouse (1971) Who Does She Think She is?, New English Library, ISBN 0-450-00993-9
- Mary Whitehouse (1977) Whatever Happened to Sex?, Wayland, ISBN 0-85340-460-7 (pbk: Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-22906-3)
- Mary Whitehouse (1982) Most Dangerous Woman?, Lion Hudson, ISBN 0-85648-408-3
- Mary Whitehouse (1985) Mightier Than the Sword, Kingsway Publications, ISBN 0-86065-382-X
- Mary Whitehouse (1993) Quite Contrary: An Autobiography, Sidgwick & Jackson, ISBN 0-283-06202-9
- My mother was a snob, says Mary Whitehouse's son
- Mary Whitehouse was right about a lot of things
- "The Mary Whitehouse Effect", (BBC Radio 4 programme)
- Mary Whitehouse at the Internet Movie Database
- Archival material relating to Mary Whitehouse listed at the UK National Archives
- Portraits of Mary Whitehouse at the National Portrait Gallery, London