Talk:Mary Whitehouse/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Oxford Group confusion[edit]

The Oxford Movement refers to a 19th century move towards Anglo-Catholicism within the Church of England. I think the article confuses it with the Oxford Group. Can someone change the article reference

The Goodies[edit]

I don't know if this is worth editing in, so I'm leaving it here as a comment for the time being: in "Comedy Connections" Graeme Garden tells that they got a letter from Mary Whitehouse saying she liked the Goodies because it was such good clean fun. --fvw* 07:37, 2004 Dec 23 (UTC)

heh heh - clearly the silly old bat wasn't actually very bright. Graham 21:39, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Which is why the Goodies then made fun of her in an episode with Beryl Reid as a Whitehouse-type morals campaigner. PMA 05:52, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)
She publicly stated that she approved of 'The Goodies' while attacking the Pythons, it's mentioned in Palin's diary's. Palin was delighted while Oddie was upset, a stamp of approval from Whitehouse destroyed 'The Goodies' ratings. Oddie partly blames Whitehouse of the unrepeatablity of 'The Goodies' as it is perceived as a not very funny kids show Jrl101 (talk) 20:11, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Singing Detective[edit]

One of the more prominent complaints I remember was her attack on the BBCs version of Dennis Potter's "The Singing Detective" - due to a somewhat protracted sex scene in the woods. As the scene was key to later psychological problems experienced by the main character, it was appropriate to include it. Her speech on the matter is to be found at [1]

Kubrick & A Clockwork Orange[edit]

My understanding is that it was due to death threats against his family that Kubrick withdrew A Clockwork Orange from distribution in the UK, and forbade it's showing there until after his death.[edit]

The article obliquely appears to mention (but not by name), which has nothing to do with Mary Whitehouse. Does the magazine even exist? Or does it have another website? Morwen - Talk 10:24, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

It certainly used to, although this reference suggests it may have folded by now:,6903,489832,00.html
I don't recall seeing it lately - not that I look at the top shelves that closely, you understand. --Stephen Burnett 17:54, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
Whitehouse originally was a magazine, more gynaecologically explicit than almost all other top-shelf mags then available. It was one of the stable of publications owned by porn baron David Sullivan (now boss of Birmingham City), and often featured the "actress" Mary Millington.

Bob Monkhouse[edit]

If I remember correctly, Bob Monkhouse poked fun at Mary Whitehouse and her antics in a limerick published in the compilation The Boy Who Forgot To Grow Down, which was compiled by Tom Baker. The limerick is as follows:

A naughty young sailor from Strood
Conceived of a plan rather rude
He trapped Mary Whitehouse
Inside an old lighthouse
And forced her to dance in the nude!

You can probably understand why I hesitate to include it in the article proper. --SpecOp Macavity 17:45, 29 December 2005 (UTC)


The opening paragraph contains: ...was a British campaigner for morals and decency.... Isn't this a subtly POV statement, since what constitute "morals and decency" depend on your point of view? I am all for morals and decency, but I could not disagree more with Mary Whitehouse's definition of them. Can't a better form of words be found? And don't say "most people's" because I doubt if you'd find any sort of consensus globally as to what that might be. Graham 12:00, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

Now reads: "was a British campaigner for traditional morals and decency, particularly in television and radio, ultimately derived from her religious beliefs". Obviously, "traditional values" covers a lot of things which are not at all defendable, and might therefore have their own POV issues, but at least her eqivalence to the former "moral majority" in the USA is now clear for the uninitiated. Philip Cross 20:01, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
A definite improvement. I changed 'traditional morals and...' to 'traditional moral values and...', I think it reads a little better that way. While I guess there is an issue with interpretation of what 'traditional' means, as you say, I expect most people will understand what is meant. Perhaps there's an article we can link, such as traditional moral values? Hmm, apparently not. Graham 23:22, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

Private Prosecutions[edit]

This section says of the Romans In Britain trial: "Whitehouse's account of the trial is recorded in her book A Most Dangerous Woman." However, the Guardian reference which I've added states: "Her true feelings about the case can perhaps be surmised by the fact that she omits the events entirely from the final volume of her memoirs."

As I have not read the book I am reluctant to remove the above sentence from the article. Can someone with access to the book please verify it?

--Stephen Burnett 08:10, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

My mistake - the autobiography referred to in the Guardian article is almost certainly "Quite Contrary."

--Stephen Burnett 11:48, 30 April 2006 (UTC)


I have heard the view expressed that Mrs Whitehouse and her views were particularly homophobic. She didn't like "Romans in Britain" because of the male rape scene, she said. It seems that a large number of the cases which she took to the High Court, typically supported financially by other people, had homosexuality at the crux, she rarely sued over heterosexual activity. She was distressingly influential upon the Conservative Party, and much of the hostility towards homosexuals in general in the mid to late 1980s was her doing. This hatred culminated in the controversial Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act. I find it difficult to take her seriously as any kind of Christian moralist, after all, Christ implores us to love one another, not stir up hatred.

Guy 22:38, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

At which point did Ms. Whitehouse state she hated homosexuals? Could you perhaps provide a referenced quote? Aaрон Кинни (t) 12:20, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Look up the prosecutions of Romans in Britain which she instigated, and the criminal blasphemy trials, and study the role of Mrs Whitehouse. If these are the work of a person at ease with the concept of homosexuality, or at least neutral, then I am a banana. Guy 20:00, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
The answer to the question, then, appears to be "No". As the article makes very clear, Mrs Whitehouse wasn't comfortable with the depiction of any aspect of sexuality or violence, or any challenge to her traditional Christian beliefs. She did consider, for example, legal action over an episode of "Till Death Us Do Part", where Alf Garnett appears to question the traditional Christian doctrine of virgin birth. I think her motivation in the instances where she went the whole distance to the High Court was that they were cases that she felt confident she could win. --Stephen Burnett 08:18, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
It is usual for persons of a Whitehouse disposition to believe steadfastly that they are right and the possibility of a valid alternative viewpoint does not exist. Of course she was convinced about the veracity of her opinions and that they would be upheld in a court of law. The Dowager Lady Birdwood was a contemporary who shared her viewpoint. Mrs Whitehouse "considered" legal action over many programmes and persons responsible for mounting productions on television and in the theatre. The very few actions which actually proceeded in her name, and upon which her reputation is based, for the most part had homosexuality and the public portrayal of it as a central aspect. Guy 14:17, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, you're entitled to your speculations about what went on inside Mrs Whitehouse's head. They are, no doubt, highly interesting; they don't, however, constitute fact, and in the absence of any verifiable quote they never will. If you find one, then by all means cite it. --Stephen Burnett 23:38, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Guy, if you want to reply to what I've said, you're very welcome, but please don't vandalise the page by deleting it. --Stephen Burnett 00:12, 27 July 2006 (UTC).

I seem to remember that Quentin Crisp wrote about the subject, and of his meeting with her in "How to become a virgin". Myredroom (talk) 07:30, 27 May 2008 (UTC)


It is a shame that the article does not mention when Mrs W. was awarded the CBE and what the official reason was. The gong seems to be a bit over the top in relation to what she actually did or achieved. She was viewed with hostility and derision, because her comments were usually predictable, and very rarely based upon any personal obervation, ie she was famous for sounding off about items she had never seen in an irrational manner and oblivious to popular tastes. Her only admirers were members of the same Tory leadership who became famous for saying one thing in public and conducting themselves totally differently in private. The suspcion is that she was "gonged" as the moral conscience of the Conservative party.

Guy 22:56, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

As far as going over the top is concerned, this article suggests otherwise. It's true that in reality she achieved little, and I suspect she had few admirers in government, but her ability to put herself in the public eye perhaps suggested that giving her some sort of modest award might serve as a sop to the people she represented. It certainly didn't represent any kind of committment to listen to or act upon her views.
--Stephen Burnett 10:04, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Hard Labour[edit]

This article says the Old Bailey sentenced John W. Gott to nine months' hard labour for blasphemy. Hard Labour? that sounds very medieval. I've never heard of a british court sentancing someone to hard labour before is the article right?

It was 1920 so it probably was. It would be called Community Service now, most likley. XdiabolicalX 19:36, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
The US had Chain Gangs up to the mid 50s, so it wouldn't be surprising a similar system still existed in the UK a few decades before (couldn't find a reference quickly to support this though) -- (talk) 16:38, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

British critics[edit]

I've removed the inclusion of Whitehouse from this category on two occasions because she did not have a regular presence in the press as a commentator, and was usually only interviwed on radio or television about her various campaigns. As I say in the history resume, she might well belong in a new category (Campaigners against (or critics of) the mass media. It would also include people like Theodor W. Adorno, Peter Hitchens and Neil Postman. I do not intend to belittle Whitehouse, though hardly an admirer, my wish is to avoid using the word "critic" too broadly. Philip Cross 18:42, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Doctor Who Anniversary Relevance[edit]

"She died, aged 91, in a nursing home in Colchester, England on 23 November 2001, on the 38th anniversary of the broadcast of the first episode of Doctor Who, a show that she had criticised a number of times over the years."

Not very relevant, is it? It's not nearly ironic enough to warrent mention, in my opinion. --CannedLizard 06:42, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

You must not be a Doctor Who fan. As any longtime fan knows (been a Doctor Who fan since 1976 myself), Mary Whitehouse fought a running gun battle against Doctor Who from its inception, spanning well over three decades. Within the history of the show, Whitehouse's influence and attacks are legendary to the point of John Nathan Turner making comments that he hoped Whitehouse would take offense at their most recent story since it would increase their ratings by about a million viewers. I find great irony that she died on the anniversery date of a television show that was one of her "pet projects" and target of her bile and vigilante puritanism. Yanqui9 05:38, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
While ironic, it's clearly POV:Doctor Who fan, and as such shouldn't belong in an NPOV encyclopedia. I see no current reference in the article, and would think it deserves little mention, even in a 'Trivia' section.Nazlfrag 05:07, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
It's not POV, it's fact, what is POV is whether it is relevant,
She criticised loads of programmes - no matter what date she had died it would have been an anniversary of the first or last time at least one of the programmes she disliked was shown or recommissioned. Nietzsche 2 (talk) 23:46, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

Lack of citations[edit]

There are a lot of claims made in this article with very few supporting references. I have highlighted a few, and cross referenced with a few obituaries. But more need to be added. --Stevouk 13:38, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Shows attacked by Mary Whitehouse[edit]

This list has very little to do with the body of the article. If there is a real (rather than imagined) link, then a Category:Mary Whitehouse for each of the is more appropriate.

A documentary film I directed for BBC tv General Features Dept., What Sort of World do we Want? - The Family (1979) was also attacked by MW. A sequence illustrating a Danish storrfamilia (a type of commune) showed very brief male frontal nudity (a penis, in starker terms). MW slapped a lawsuit on the programme's producer, Paul Bonner, under the Vagrancy Act. Nothing came of it and I don't suggest this merits inclusion in the main article. I mention it merely for the amusement of this specialised readership. Cheers. El Ingles 22:14, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Confused tag[edit]

I've put this back. The tag is a generic redirect for similar-sounding articles; it isn't intended to make any sort of comparison. Making mention of the Experience in the article is not grounds for removial; if people are looking for the Experience article, they're not going to want to have to read through an entirely unrelated biography to get hold of the correct link. Chris Cunningham 15:28, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

And again. Sigh. Chris Cunningham 12:24, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Mary Whitehouse.jpg[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

Image:Mary Whitehouse.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.BetacommandBot 04:48, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Dame Edna[edit]

The Edna Everage character preceeded Whitehouse's campaigning by nearly 10 years, and was established in Australia. It is therefore rather a stretch to claim that Dame Edna was based on Mary Whitehouse. (talk) 17:38, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

Edna Everage as a character on British television dates from after Mrs Whitehouse came to prominence. There was very little Australian content on European television in those days, apart from Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Barry Humphries had been working in London for many years, notably on Private Eye and the Barry MacKenzie cartoon. This version of Dame Edna was his breakthrough. The visual appearance and presentation of the character on British television clearly derives from the Mary Whitehouse telly image. Fair enough, aspects of the characterisation clearly did not, and were obviously Australian in origin, as was her assistant "Madge". The wider popularity of that particular character, as opposed to, for example, Sir Les Patterson, owes much to the comedic association in the viewers' minds with Mary Whitehouse. Guy (talk) 20:32, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
Somewhat tangential to Whitehouse's life and career. Has Humphries ever said something about this? If not this is something of a factoid and should be removed. Philip Cross (talk) 22:21, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
Agreed it is possibly more relevant to Barry Humphries than Mary Whitehouse. However, there can be little doubt that the "Dame Edna" character played a large part in the way that Mary Whitehouse came to be seen as a figure of fun, especially amongst those whose major source of news and opinion was television rather than the print media. The parallel is the manner in which public perception of politics in general and some politicians in particular was heavily influenced by their depiction on Spitting Image. Guy (talk) 17:04, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

The Goodies passage[edit]

This episode was previously cited twice in the article before I merged the references. I would suggest that it is cut further, and the episode article merly cited. As it is it has too much prominence, and is perhaps ahem slightly trivial. Philip Cross (talk) 22:21, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Letters to Number 10[edit]

"Through the letters she frequently sent to Harold Wilson, then Prime Minister, Whitehouse caused particular difficulties for civil servants at 10 Downing Street. "

If the difficulties that these letters caused to civil servants were "particular", shouldn't these difficulties be described or cited? If the letters were indeed lost, then it doesn't sound like they caused any difficulty at all. This looks like POV or speculation to me. Myredroom (talk) 10:19, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

I was summarising from the Alan Travis book I cite when writing the passage you refer to. Philip Cross (talk) 13:44, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
The citation comes a few sentences later. I still think it looks like conjecture. If the book sppecifies the difficulties, why not include them? If not, why not alter to "Whitehouse is believed to have caused particular....."? Myredroom (talk) 01:20, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Pink Floyd[edit]

The Pink Floyd reference to Mary Whitehouse was one of the tracks used as background music in the play Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, shown on BBC2 on 28 may 2008. The main music used was the track Pee, po, piddle, bum, drawers by Flanders and Swann, which set the tone for the (lack of) seriousness of the programme.

Filth - Clean Up National TV gag[edit]

The joke about 'Clean Up National TV' is accurate - I've just watched the show. Difficult to cite a written reference. AMe (talk) 18:40, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Opposition paragraph[edit]

The paragraph entitled 'opposition' seems to me to describe more her effect on popular culture (i.e. spoofs of her etc.), rather than direct opposition. Perhaps 'Influence on Popular Culture' would be a more suitable title? (talk) 13:44, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

The whole article has now become disorganised and haphazard. The BBC docu/drama on 28 May 2008 has had an effect on contributors also. It is probably time for a better-ordered rewrite/revision. Guy (talk) 16:01, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Moral Re-armament (Oxford Group)[edit]

The article states that Mrs Whitehouse was involved with MRA as a student. Did this connection continue throughout her life and campaign? Millbanks (talk) 07:55, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

Doctor Who[edit]

This section was added to the main article without any supporting evidence:

She was a regular opponent of the BBC Science fiction series Doctor Who, which she considered frequently inappropriate for children to view. The series’ script editor from 1968 until 1974, Terrance Dicks, once said “if there's one thing she hated more than sex, it was Doctor Who”. Her criticisms became particularly frequent during the period produced by Philip Hinchcliffe between 1975 and 1977, which she described as “teatime brutality for tots”. After viewing the third episode of The Deadly Assassin, broadcast in November 1976, she wrote a strongly worded letter to the BBC “in anger and despair”. She accused the serial of being “permeated with violence of a quite unacceptable kind” and being “shocking”, “vicious” and “sadistic”, citing in particular three offending scenes: one in which a character was in flames, an episode ending where the Doctor’s foot is trapped in a railway track while a train approaches, and another episode ending in which the Doctor’s head is held under water by a villain. She finished the letter by accusing the BBC of hypocrisy in ignoring its own Guidance Notes on the portrayal of violence on television and the programme makers of being “engrossed in their own expertise“. She received an apology from BBC Director General Charles Curran (broadcaster), which marked a change in the BBC’s policy towards the series and Whitehouse’s complaints. Hinchcliffe left Doctor Who after three more serials and his successor, Graham Williams, was ordered to lighten the tone of the series.

Without the citations, this is unsupported "hearsay" and is out of place in the main article. Guy (talk) 19:54, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

I can get citations from a couple of Dr who DVDs - there's a documentary on the deadly assassin which discusses her intervention, and the production subtitles of the Sontaran Experiment describe how her attention was first brought to the series. Incidentally TSE follows The Ark in Space, so it's unlikely that she complained about it. However the broad gist of the paragraph is correct - her complaint about The Deadly Assassin was upheld, the offending cliffhanger was edited in repeats, and Phillip Hinchcliffe was replaced to lighten the tone. Totnesmartin (talk) 12:35, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
BBC say about Ark: "This tautly-paced adventure had children scurrying behind the sofa and Mary Whitehouse reaching for the phone when it was first broadcast in 1974." But, if you can cite a verifiable source that gives more accurate account, I'm not going to argue. The point for me is not which Dr. Who, simply that a verifiable reference can be given to substantiate the she did complain about Dr. Who. I don't see that the BBC drama about Whitehouse provides this, as it is a drama not a documentary. Provided the Dr. who DVD documentary gives accurate verifiable details, and not gossip, then I'd have no problem with it being changed. What I would be concerned about is having gone to the trouble of establishing a verifiable source, this then gets changed to something the accuracy of which can be challenged at a later date. Mish (talk) 19:25, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
The DVD documentary contains an interview with her in which she discusses the particular scene. I'll go and do that stuff now actually. Totnesmartin (talk) 20:47, 31 May 2009 (UTC)