Melon Farmers Original Version

UK and Ireland Censorship History

Before Melon Farmers


Offsite Article: Obituary: Graham Bright...

Link Here24th January 2024
Full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted
Legislator behind the appalling Video Recordings Act

See article from



Offsite Article: The first 'fuck' said in cinema history...

Link Here 29th October 2023
Debateable claims about Ulysses and I'll Never Forget What's'isname

See article from



Offsite Article: Beginning with a ban...

Link Here9th October 2023
A US movie news website retells the story of the old BBFC ban of the original Exorcist movie.

See article from



VHS A GO GO: Misadventures in the post-cert world...

A fascinating recollection of unregulated VHS trading prior to the imposition of state censorship in 1984

Link Here 18th April 2022

There is a scene in Censor (2021) where the protagonist is able to talk the stereotypical owner of a sleazy video shop into selling her a banned, under the counter horror video with the word cannibal in the title, all during the space of one visit to the shop. This is beyond idiotic, as well as laughably inaccurate to anyone who lived through that period. The reality is that the Video Nasty furore had left an atmosphere of fear and distrust among those who kept the outlawed material around.

...Read the full article from

Note that Facebook totally blocked this link from being included in a Facbook post citing some ludicrously overwrought claims of omething along the lines of 'moral turpitude'.



Brass Eye...

A cut scene revealing 1997 censorship of the satirical TV comedy by Christopher Morris

Link Here7th October 2021
Brass Eye is a 1997 UK TV comedy
Starring Christopher Morris, Mark Heap and Kevin Eldon IMDb

Controversial spoof documentaries of current affairs television, and the role of celebrity in the UK.

I just spotted a cut scene on YouTube from the satirical comedy series Brass Eye. The scene was cut from the last episode of the first series broadcast in March 1997. The theme of the episode was the moral decline Britain. A sequence about Peter Sutcliffe! The Musical was dropped by the TV company, Channel 4.

Christopher Morris was not pleased and inserted a subliminal message about the channel boss Michael Grade. The inserted card read simply: Grade is a cunt.



Offsite Article: The War on Porn: Cancel Culture on Steroids...

Link Here 5th September 2021
How the recent threat to OnlyFans falls in with a history of censorship and control by banks and payment providers. By Jerry Barnett

See article from



Suffer Little Children...

Gav Crimson details the overblown press coverage of the seizure and legal actions against a horror film featuring child actors at the time of the Video Nasties moral panic

Link Here4th January 2021
Suffer Little Children is a 1983 UK video horror by Alan Briggs.
Starring Colin Chamberlain, Ginny Rose and Jon Hollanz. Melon Farmers linkYouTube icon BBFC link 2020 IMDb
The film was cut for an unofficial BBFC 18 rating issued prior to the implementation of the VRA. The film was seized by the police anyway and the film got caught up in the tabloid hysteria around the video nasty era. The film was passed 18 uncut for UK DVD release in 2017.

The DVD version has a significant number of variations from the VHS. version.

See Gav Crimson's detailed history of the censorship of Suffer Little Children and the timeline of newspaper coverage .

Summary Notes

This amateur video production, (not particularly well regarded), is claimed to be a reconstruction of events involving child demonic possession which took place at 45 Kingston Road, New Malden, Surrey, England in August 1984. None of these events were reported to the press though, not the to mention the fact that the film was conceived and shot in 1983, well before the supposed baseline event.

The video was submitted to the BBFC for a pre-VRA unofficial rating in December 1984. The BBFC asked for about 2 minutes of cuts. However the distributors suffered a police raid on the day after the submission and the police seized the film. The police seemed to think that the uncut version was illegal and would not give the distributors the opportunity to implement the cuts that would make it legal. The DPP considered the film for 3 months before deciding that no further action would be taken as long as the film was only distributed in the BBFC approved version. The film was caught up in press frenzy at this time, with the inevitable calls for a ban and worse.



Offsite Article: Reservoir Dogs, and how it was banned in the UK on video...

Link Here 16th November 2020
And bizarrely there is no trace of such an iconic and controversial film in the BBFC's shoddy new database

See article from



Offsite Article: Sexplay...

Link Here9th November 2020
Early hardcore in the UK and the John Lindsay blue movie scandal

See article from



A disturbed BBC...

Recalling the BBC's 1978 ban on The Jam's Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

Link Here6th October 2020
The Jam's anti-racism anthem Down in the Tube Station at Midnight was a song released with a message in 1978. It had a powerful message, too strong for the BBC who thought that the track wasn't acceptable to play on the radio and, subsequently, chose to ban it.

The track was met by hostility, eg when BBC Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn complained that it was disgusting the way punks sing about violence: Why can't they sing about trees and flowers?

Blackburn was not alone in the BBC as a figure who hated everything about the song and the broadcaster decided, at the time, that they had no choice but to ban the track from receiving airplay due to its disturbing nature.

The Jam knew that making Down in the Tube Station at Midnight as a single would be a bold move, one which would anger some quarters who simply wanted the music to be lovey-dovey and, in truth, not to reflect back at societal issues--a pivotal reason why they released it.

The Jam were three albums in and had become an unstoppable force of nature so, if the BBC thought that there ban would nullify the message, they were wrong as it became their second UK Top 20 hit, much to the delight of Tony Blackburn no doubt.



BBC get turned on...

Looking back at a BBC ban on the Beatles' A Day in the Life

Link Here7th August 2020
The Beatles song A Day In The Life , taken from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, was banned by the BBC following its release in 1967.

This particular period of time arrived during The group's well-documented LSD period. The band received a letter from BBC director of sound broadcasting Frank Gillard on May 23rd, 1967, detailing his reasoning for banning the song which opened with the line:

I never thought the day would come when we would have to put a ban on an EMI record , but sadly, this is what has happened over this track.

We have listened to it over and over again with great care, and we cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that the words 'I'd love to turn you on,' followed by that mounting montage of sound, could have a rather sinister meaning.

The recording may have been made in innocence and good faith. But we must take account of the interpretation that many young people would inevitably put upon it. Turned on is a phrase which can be used in many different circumstances, but it is currently much in vogue in the jargon of the drug addicts.



Offsite Article: Depraved And Corrupting...

Link Here31st July 2020
The Complete Video Nasties

See article from



Dance of the Seven Veils...

Banned Ken Russell TV film to be screened on 29th February 2020 at the Keswick FIlm Festival

Link Here24th February 2020
Dance of the Seven Veils is a 1970 UK music biography by Ken Russell.
Starring Christopher Gable, Judith Paris and Kenneth Colley. IMDb

An imaginary portrait of composer Richard Strauss.

Ken Russell's film about Richard Strauss, has been banned for 50 years but is screening at the Keswick film festival on 29th February.

It was banned 50 years ago after one screening. The BBC TV documentary shocked with its portrayal of the German composer as a vulgar, pompous man with Nazi sympathies.

Mary Whitehouse, the self-appointed moral guardian, got hot under her collar about its sex scenes, while questions were asked in the House of Commons.

Then the Strauss family complained about the use of the composer's music, before applying a ban, through copyright, which only expired a week ago.

The screening at the Keswick film festival, will also feature another Russell cause célèbre, A Kitten for Hitler. This short was prompted by Melvyn Bragg, who wondered if the film-maker could conjure up something purely to offend. Made in 2007, the eight-minute film is the story of a Jewish kid who, feeling sorry for the unloved Fuhrer, goes to Germany to give him a kitten.

It sounds not so far away from the Mark Meechan joke about a Nazi saluting pug which resulted in a 2018 conviction for a 'hate crime'.



Offsite Article: And the first lesbian kiss on UK TV was...

Link Here24th February 2020
From rumours about the sexuality of the BBC's first Director General, to the first same sex Strictly competitors, our timeline explores LGBTQ+ life at the BBC from the 1920s to the present day.

See article from



Offsite Article: Why Kirklees Council banned Monty Python classic The Life Of Brian...

Link Here13th January 2020
Recalling how the Yorkshire council went about censoring films in the 1970s

See article from



H for horrific...

The BBFC reminisces about its history of remarkably few changes to its categories

Link Here28th November 2019
The BBFC (@BBFC) have tweeted:

A little piece of BBFC history for you, to mark #throwbackthursday: There used to be an H classification, which stood for Horrific.

In fact there is an interesting page on their website that outlines this history of BBFC film certificates. There were hardly any changes from when they started in 1913 until 1970.

1913 Universal U and an advisory A

The A was for more adult oriented films but as all films were highly censored at the time there was no need to be any more restrictive than that.

1932 Universal U , advisory A and an advisory H

The advisory H for Horrific was introduced to indicate horror themes. Films were still highly censored and there was still no need to be restrictive about the ratings.

1951 Universal U , Advisory A and a restricted X (16+)

For the first time an age restricted 16+ X category was introduced. This replaced the H certificate.

And that's it until 1970. Note that local authorities held sway over the BBFC and had their own rules, eg with London requiring children to be accompanied when seeing an A rated film.



Offsite Article: The War of the Worlds...

Link Here14th November 2019
Recalling a time in 1953 when the BBFC was lobbied by Great Yarmouth Council to reduce its rating from 'X' to 'A'

See article from



Something must be done!...

Historical records show that former PM John Major agitated for more TV and video censorship

Link Here18th July 2019
Documents released from the National Archives show former prime minister John Major frequently called for more censorship of TV and video. He was also frustrated at always being told there was no way to tackle violent videos.

John Major claimed there would be a public backlash over the widespread availability of pornography and violent videos, yet felt his Conservative government was not doing enough to stop it.

For example a note prepared by Downing Street aide shows he suggested that it might be possible to abolish the idea of the 9pm watershed, which he felt was becoming obsolescent in the age of time-shifting video recording. The briefing added:

The prime minister said he was still not satisfied that the Government was doing enough.

In a few years time when the public saw violent and pornographic material readily available they would ask why the government had not acted.

He was not convinced by arguments that this was just a matter of personal responsibility. He believed this area should be followed up.

One file notes the emerging popularity of satellite and cable television channels which did not observe the terrestrial watershed.

It was suggested that the government might push the ITC (regulator the Independent Television Commission) on more restrictions on the encrypted channels and might use the legislation to renew the BBC Charter to introduce more general regulatory broadcasting legislation.



Offsite Article: Visions of Ecstasy...

Link Here15th June 2019
Banned in 1989. In this ongoing series, Sam Inglis casts a retrospective look on films that were banned from exhibition by the British censor.

See article from



Offsite Article: Fruits of Philosphy...

Link Here13th June 2019
The story of a Victorian book which was considered obscene for informing people about sex and contraception

See article from



As Time Goes By...

Ireland's long and beautiful friendship with censors, where the classic Casablanca was once banned in 1942, and was still cut in 1974

Link Here15th May 2019
The most infamous film ban in Ireland was of the classic Casablanca in 1942.

The officially neutral Ireland said it was Allied propaganda and felt sorry for the poor Nazis and how they were portrayed..

It was banned on March 19, 1942, for infringing on the Emergency Powers Order (EPO), preserving wartime neutrality in the way it portrayed Vichy France and Nazi Germany in a sinister light.

Soon after the end of the war in Europe the film was unbanned but passed with cuts on June 15, 1945, The cuts were to dialogue between Rick and Ilsa referring to their love affair. It seemed even talking about affairs was forbidden in Ireland.

Amazingly, even in 1974, the people of Ireland had to be saved from Casablanca. The censor passed it with one cut on July 16, 1974. RTÉ had asked about showing the film on TV -- it still required a dialogue cut to Ilsa expressing her love for Rick.



Offsite Article: Mary Whitehouse And The Sex Life Of Jesus...

Link Here 11th March 2019
1976 was the year of her greatest triumph. It was a battle against pornography, attacks on Christianity and left-wing subversion, and it opened up the Pandora's box of blasphemy prosecutions

See article from



Offsite Article: The People Vs Nympho Nurse Nancy...

Link Here3rd February 2019
Responding to the CPS relaxation of obscenity laws, David Flint recalls the battle to make R18 porn legal 20 years ago

See article from



Porny cultural heritage...

1880 copy of Fanny Hill goes up for auction

Link Here15th January 2019
Britain's oldest porn novel which dates back to 1740s and was still banned in 1960s has made the news

A copy of John Cleland 's Fanny Hill or The Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure first published in 1748 is to go under the hammer after being found in an old cigarette box.

It is one of the most prosecuted and banned novels in history and tells the story of a prostitute's life. It was banned soon after publication when it was denounced by the Bishop of London as an open insult upon Religion and good manners. The ban was only lifted in 1970.

A copy of The Memoirs of the Life of Fanny Hill, The Career of a Woman of Pleasure from 1880 has been unearthed.  The book will be sold on Tuesday next week at the auction house of the BBC's Bargain Hunt star Charles Hanson in Etwall, Derbyshire.

The auction lot includes a newspaper cutting from the 1960s about a police raid in which 20,000 copies of the book were seized from Mayflower Books.



A Major lack of Perspective...

Recently unlocked government papers show that prime minister John Major wanted Britain to derogate the European Convention on Human Rights so as to be able to continue to ban Visions of Ecstasy

Link Here31st December 2018
Newly-released government papers reveal that prime minister John Major considered abrogating from the European Convention on Human Rights if it ruled against Britain in a case involving the film Visions of Ecstasy being banned for blasphemy -- Visions of Ecstasy. Documents also revealed that Major was an admirer of Mary Whitehouse.

Nigel Wingrove's 18-minute film depicted Carmelite nun St Teresa's sexual fantasies about Jesus on the cross, and it was banned by the BBFC, making it the first and only film to be banned in the UK for blasphemy.

When film director Wingrove applied to challenge the ban at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), arguing it breached his freedom of expression, Major responded in a document dated August 1994 sent to senior government figures. Major wrote:

I must make it clear that I would not tolerate a position which required the Government or the BBFC to grant a certificate to this film or to others of a similar type.

This is a matter on which I feel sufficiently strongly to be prepared to consider a derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights if that were to be necessary in the final analysis. I must say I find the position in which we find ourselves wholly unacceptable.

In a reply, then Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd warned about doing anything likely to weaken the fabric of the convention, adding that:

We cannot, in practice, derogate from it except in cases of war or threats to the life of the nation.

Actually it turned out that the UK's blasphemy laws were backed by the ECHR when it threw out Wingate's challenge two years later.

Visions of Ecstacy was finally given an 18-rated certificate in 2012 after the common law offence of blasphemous libel was abolished in England and Wales in 2008.



Diary: Censored! Stage, Screen, Society at 50...

Until 29th January 2019. London's Victoria and Albert Museum marks 50 years since the Theatres Act came into force, abolishing state censorship of the British stage

Link Here15th October 2018
Until 1968 plays that had the potential to create immoral or anti-government feelings were banned by the Lord Chamberlain's office or ordered to be edited.

The V&A exhibition includes original manuscripts with notes on what needs to be changed and letters from Lord Chamberlain explaining why the edits are required.

In the exhibition there are several pieces including a manuscript about the play Saved by Edward Bond. The play tells the story of a group of young people living in poverty and includes a scene in which a baby is stoned to death.

When the Royal Court Theatre submitted the play to the censor, over 50 amendments were requested. Bond refused to cut two key scenes, stating 'it was either the censor or me -- and it was going to be the censor'. As a result, the play was banned.

Before the act was passed, playwrights got around the law by staging banned plays in members clubs which meant they could not be persecuted since it was private venue. The continued success of this strategy and the reluctance to prosecute made a mockery of the Lord Chamberlain's powers and reflected the increasingly relaxed attitudes of the public towards 'shocking' material.

The first night after the Act was introduced, the rock musical Hair opened on Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End. It featured drugs, anti-war messages and brief nudity, ushering in a new age of British theatre.

The exhibition runs until 29th January 2019.



Offsite Video: From 50 years ago...

Link Here28th September 2018
Historical BBC news report from the time when the UK stage censor was retired and the hippy musical Hair opened

See article from



Extract: The Oz Obscenity Trials...

Underground magazine prosecuted for obscenity

Link Here19th May 2018

From 1967 until 1973 Oz was the irreverent colour supplement of the London underground press.

In June 1971 the editors (Jim Anderson, Felix Dennis and Richard Neville) went on trial at the Old Bailey for, among other things, conspiring to corrupt the morals of young children and other young persons by producing an obscene article , sending said article through the mail, and publishing obscene articles for gain.

Had they been on trial for obscenity alone, the maximum penalty would have been a fine of £ 100 or 6 months imprisonment. However, the use of an (archaic) conspiracy charge meant that there was no limit on the fine or sentence that could be imposed.

... See the full article from



Offsite Article: Ulysses versus the censors...

Link Here25th November 2017
Fifty years on from the Joyce movie that scandalised the world. By Donal Fallon, author and historian

See article from




British Library digitises original manuscripts from notable playwrights, including those suffering censorship from the British stage censor

Link Here17th September 2017
Production notebooks belonging to Samuel Beckett, letters written by JB Priestley from the First World War front line and an uncensored version of Joe Orton's Loot are among the items made available to view online for the first time by the British Library.

More than 100 artefacts from the British Library's theatre archive have been digitised as part of Discovering Literature: 20th Century , which brings together the work and creative processes of some of the last century's greatest playwrights.

Fourteen dramatists and 17 key works are explored through high-resolution images of playscripts, production photography, reviews, posters and programmes.

Other highlights include a manuscript of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey together with the censor's notes in 1958, criticising the play for its portrayal of a gay character.



Red Triangle Films...

Channel 4 experiment with onscreen warning of adult films

Link Here1st September 2017

red triangle logoIn 1986 Channel 4 experimented with the idea of identifying adult films with an onscreen "Red Triangle" symbol (actually a bit of a misnomer - it was a white triangle with red edging). The official C4 term was Special Discretion Required.

The experiment was never continued possibly because of the ensuing notoriety.

The films shown were

  • 19/09/86 Themroc (1972, "Invented Language")
  • 03/10/86 Pastoral Hide-and-See (1974, Japanese)
  • 10/10/86 Throw Away Your Books; Let's Go Into the Streets (1971, Japanese, TV Version)
  • 17/10/86 Identification of a Woman (1982, Italian/French)
  • 24/10/86 Pixote (1981, Brazilian)
  • 31/10/86 The Clinic (1982, Australian)
  • 14/11/86 Montenegro, or: Pigs and Pearls (1981, Swedish/British, with a Yugoslavian director!)
  • 28/11/86 No Mercy, No Future (1981, West German)
  • 10/01/87 Out of the Blue (1980, American)
  • 17/01/87 The Wall (1983, Turkish)



Remember the episode about the senior politician's jack boot fetish?...

Jack Straw tried to get Eurotrash banned back in the 1990s

Link Here3rd February 2017

Eurotrash was a fun loving Channel 4 magazine programme that presented sexy and funny stories from around Europe. It gained a cult following when it first aired in the 1990s. The show, which was presented by actor Antoine de Caunes  and fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, became a hit with ratings of between two and three million at its height

But New Labour arch censorship villain Jack Straw was apparently not amused. Seemingly he was 'appalled' when he walked in on his son watching the show that he secretly lobbied for it to be axed from the airwaves.

Straw is said to have doggedly pushed Channel 4's then head of nations and regions, Stuart Cosgrove, to get the show removed from the schedule.

Cosgrove, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland about politicians trying to influence the media, said:

 I had a situation with a particular politician who was Jack Straw, the former Labour Minister, when I was at Channel 4.

He was adamant that he wanted Eurotrash to be taken out of the Channel Four schedule because he had gone home and found his young teenage son laughing at a sketch about Lady Godiva, it was that kind of bizarre, but he was fairly dogged about it.

Of course we kind of brushed it off or whatever.

But there is no question that there are politicians that assume they have got the power to kind of influence and push and test at the edges or whatever. And that goes on daily.



The Undiscovered Peter Cook...

16th November 2016. The BBC to broadcast newly discovered works by Peter Cook previously thought lost through censorship

Link Here16th November 2016

The Undiscovered Peter Cook
16th November 2016. BBC 4 10pm

Following the death of Britain's greatest satirist in 1995, Peter Cook's widow Lin locked the door of his Hampstead house, and refused all access to the media. Until this year, when she invited her friend Victor Lewis-Smith and a BBC crew inside, to make a documentary about the man she knew and loved, with unprecedented access to Peter's private recordings, diaries, letters, photographs, and much more.

The result is a fascinating and unique hour of television, that includes Peter performing hitherto unknown comedy sketches, rediscovered interviews, and long-lost footage of Peter performing with his comedy partner Dudley Moore, as well as with Peter Sellers and David Attenborough. There are multiple extracts from Peter's home videos, as well as Lin's first televised interview. A major find is The Dead Sea Tapes , an LP recorded by Peter and Dudley in 1963, but never released (due to concerns about blasphemy laws), and long thought lost. Also included are rediscovered classic sketches from Not Only But Also , reconstructed in the edit suite after mute film clips were retrieved from Australia, and reunited with the original audio tracks.

There is also unique footage from Peter's memorial service, with contributions from Dudley, Barry Humphries, and David Frost. Fans of Peter's work will be delighted by the rediscovered comedy gems (most of which have either never been broadcast, or have remained unseen since their initial transmission some fifty years ago), while Lin reveals the tender and loving private side of a man better known for his acerbic public persona.

Update: Derek and Clive

16th November 2016.  See  article from

The Undiscovered Peter Cook features a 70-second piece of dialogue between Cook and his comedy co-conspirator Dudley Moore that uses the word 'cunt' 12 times and 'fuck' 15 times. It's rapid-fire vulgarity and is, almost certainly, the most profanity riddled rant ever broadcast on British TV.

Because of its potential to offend it's only being shown after the express approval of the BBC's head of television Charlotte Moore.And the corporation insists it's the right decision:

This goes out well past the watershed in a 10pm slot with a very strong language warning, on a channel whose viewers are very familiar with its content, said a spokesperson. Peter Cook's unique brand of satire is well known to comedy fans who would be accustomed to the strongest language from his Derek and Clive sketches with Dudley Moore.

The audio clip is carefully extracted from a 23-minute long sketch called The Horn on the pair's 1978 Derek and Clive spoken-word album Ad Nauseam , whose release marked the end of Cook and Moore's already combustible relationship. And, it's fair to say, despite the 'cunts' it's probably one of the tamest bits (a film of the recording was banned in Britain for more than a decade).

The album track it's taken from, opens with Cook, as Clive, describing being sexually aroused by the sight of a dead Pope lying in state. The line delivered immediately after the 70-second extract used in the documentary also contains the word 'nigger'.



Extract: A Classic Literary Nasty...

How the Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom has became a classic

Link Here8th October 2016

Sade's once unpublishable novel has now joined the ranks of Penguin's Classics for the first time, and its author will take his place alongside the great figures of world literature -- many of whom would no doubt turn in their graves at the news that their club now counted Sade among its members.

Recent censorship history

Translations published by the Olympia Press in Paris were banned from the UK throughout the 1950s. In the wake of the Lady Chatterley's Lover trial in 1960 , a test case for the Obscene Publications Act passed a year before, more publishing houses were emboldened to publish Sade.

But all this came to a halt with the Moors murders trial of 1966, and with the revelation that Ian Brady had owned a paperback Corgi edition of Sade's Justine . Brady's taste in books was widely reported in the tabloid press, and fired the public imagination. Commentator George Steiner alluded to the high probability that Brady's reading of Justine was a significant factor in the case. It did not seem to matter that the copy of Justine that Brady owned had only appeared in print after he had committed all but one of his murders.

A ban on the publication and importation of Sade's works swiftly followed the trial and remained in effect for more than 20 years. When a British publisher, Arrow Books, finally tested the ban by reprinting Sade's major novels in the late 1980s and early 90s, Ann Winterton MP led calls for the DPP to act, condemning Juliette as filth of a particularly ugly and dangerous kind .

It is hard to imagine a work of fiction prompting calls for prosecution in Britain today. The written word no longer seems to frighten people in the same way any more. The fear that novels used to inspire has shifted instead to more recent -- and visual -- forms of fiction and fantasy such as video games, horror movies, and internet pornography.

...Read the full article from



Offsite Article: British Grand Prix 1976: How a condom manufacturer forced F1 off TV...

Link Here10th July 2016
Classic Hunt and Lauda tussle censored by the BBC to avoid broadcasting the Durex advert on Surtees cars. By Alan Jewell

See article from



BBC Pride...

The first gay kiss on British television has been found in a forgotten archive

Link Here16th June 2016
The first lesbian kiss on British television is to be shown again for the first time in more than forty years, after a tape of the BBC play, Girl , was unearthed in a forgotten archive.

Girl, a BBC Two drama about lesbian love in the army, made headlines in 1974 after Alison Steadman and Myra Frances were shown locked in a passionate embrace.

Unfortunately the recording quality was not good, but the BBC has now digitised the film, and will make it available for download via the BBC Store.

Steadman said she had been quite nervous about taking the part. She recalled:

I thought my mum would be a bit embarrassed by comments from neighbours, but they took it well.

The film will form part of a collection chronicling gay milestones on the BBC, released to coincide with London's Pride festival. The Prejudice and Pride Collection is available on from Thursday 16th June.



Black and White TV Kiss...

BFI researches a TV taboo that crumbled in the 60s

Link Here23rd November 2015
The first interracial kiss broadcast on British television has been uncovered by the British Film Institute.

It featured on You in Your Small Corner , a Granada Play of the Week , broadcast in June 1962.

The drama was an adaptation of a play by Jamaican-born Barry Reckord that had been performed at the Royal Court and explored issues of mixed race and class.

Marcus Prince, the BFI's TV programmer who discovered the historic kiss while researching an event, said: I was astounded ... it was so explicit really. I looked at the date and realised its significance.

The accolade of the first interracial kiss had previously been attributed to an episode of Emergency Ward 10 broadcast in 1964, between characters Joan Hooley and John White.

A kiss between Lieutenant Uhura and Captain James T Kirk in a 1968 episode of Star Trek was the first shown in the US and is also often cited as the first shown British television .

The kiss will be shown to a Race and Romance on TV panel at the BFI on 24 November.



Offsite Article: Sex, violence and religion: The films banned by councils...

Link Here 8th November 2015
The BBC speaks of notable films where local councils overruled BBFC ratings

See article from



The War Game Files...

Radio 4 programme discusses the recent finding that the Government asked the BBC not to show the 1965 drama, The War Game. The BBC had previously claimed this was their own decision

Link Here31st May 2015
The War Game is a 1965 UK war Sci-Fi drama by Peter Watkins.
Starring Michael Aspel, Peter Graham and Kathy Staff. IMDb

The War Game is a fictional, worst-case-scenario docu-drama about nuclear war and its aftermath in and around a typical English city. Although it won an Oscar for Best Documentary, it is fiction. It was intended as an hour-long program to air on BBC 1, but it was deemed too intense and violent to broadcast. It went to theatrical distribution as a feature film instead. Low-budget and shot on location, it strives for and achieves convincing and unflinching realism.

A Scots academic has uncovered previously secret government files which show how the BBC collaborated with Whitehall officials in the 1960s to ban a controversial film about a nuclear attack on Britain.

BBC drama documentary The War Game , which showed scenes of radiation sickness, firestorms and widespread panic following a nuclear attack on Britain, was infamously pulled from broadcast at the 11th hour in 1965. The corporation insisted it was its own decision to implement the ban as the footage was too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting .

However the move has been mired in controversy ever since, as it was known the drama had been viewed by Whitehall officials in the weeks beforehand. Now fifty years on, John Cook, professor of media at Glasgow Caledonian University, has uncovered previously secret Cabinet Office files which show how civil servants influenced the banning of the film.

Sir Norman Brook, who was chair of the BBC Board of Governors at the time had written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Burke Trend to alert him to the film ahead of its planned broadcast. Cook said one key memo he uncovered revealed Brook and Trend subsequently had a meeting with then director of the BBC Sir Hugh Carleton Greene. He said:

In the memo Sir Hugh Carleton Greene said if it was decided by the government the film should not be shown, then the BBC would put out a press release saying they had taken the decision independently. It is pretty clear.

The War Game was not screened by the BBC until twenty years later, in July 1985. The film's director Watkins left Britain to work abroad in protest following the ban.

These findings will be discussed as part of a BBC Radio 4 programme The War Game Files, which will be broadcast on Saturday 6th June at 8pm.



Offsite Article: Jack the Ripper...

Link Here1st March 2015
The story behind the first 18 certificated video game

See article from



Facesitting with Whitehouse...

Margaret Thatcher attempted to get sex toys banned by watering down the 'deprave and corrupt' obscenity test

Link Here31st December 2014

  A Margaret Thatcher butt plug

Margaret Thatcher considered banning sex toys using an anti-pornography law as part of a public decency morality drive in the 1980s.

Documents released by the National Archives reveal that the former prime minister was persuaded to consider a change in the law by the anti-obscenity campaigner Mary Whitehouse, whom she met on two occasions.

Leon Brittan, seemingly well versed about depravity law, and the home secretary at the time, wrote to Thatcher noting that there was a strong case to be made for banning sex toys under obscenity laws.

In September 1986 he wrote claiming that:

Some of the items in circulation are most objectionable, including some which can cause physical injury.

He felt that sex toys could fall within the scope of the deprave and corrupt test of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act.

Thatcher asked Brittan to prepare a new test, which could set a new bar for what could be considered to offend good taste or public decency. But Brittan felt that taste was too imprecise a concept for the courts to be able to arbitrate on and the plan was abandoned.



Offsite Article: From the Guardian's news archive: 6 November 1976...

Link Here 9th November 2014
Tory MP seeks tax on sexy films. 'If people must really see X or AA films then I think they should not object to paying a little extra for the privilege' - Richard Body MP

See article from



Use and Abuse of Books...

The author of the last book to be banned in the UK under the Obscene Publications Act is curating an exhibition in Manchester on boundary-pushing literature.

Link Here1st September 2014

Use and Abuse of Books takes the form of an exhibition displaying and discussing some of the material from book publisher Savoy's vast and often controversial archive, focussing on graphic novels and comics, including the infamous Lord Horror (1989) accredited to David Britton and co-authored by Michael Butterworth.

The novel is based on a historical personage Lord Haw-Haw, aka William Joyce, British fascist and radio announcer hanged in 1946 for his infamous Germany Calling broadcasts. Warping him from Haw-Haw to Horror, the novel, with its exaggerated depiction of British collusion, views the rabble-rouser DJ through a glass darkly, catapulting the narrative into exuberance, extravagance and excess.

Throughout their existence Savoy have been targeted by censors, frequently raided by the police and have been taken to court for publishing obscene material, notably in their fight-back by having the bigoted speech of a Manchester ex-chief of police reiterated by a similarly named character in one Lord Horror story, events that in April 1993 led to Britton's imprisonment. The criticisms of and objections to publications such as Lord Horror congeal around the question of whether depicting and describing horrific acts is justified in satire, with Judge Gerrard Humphries arguing in 1992 that Lord Horror:

Is a glorification of racism and violence. It contains pictures that will be repulsive to right-thinking people, and could be read---and possibly gloated over---by people who enjoy viciousness and violence

Michael Moorcock countered that the book :

Is in a tradition of lampoon, of exaggeration. Its purpose is to show up social evils, and the evils within ourselves. The book tries to identify the ways of thinking that led to the Holocaust, and could yet lead to another one



Updated: The Little Red Schoolbook Unbanned...

Controversial sex education book was banned in 1969

Link Here14th July 2014
A sex manual for teenagers that was banned in 1969 has just been republished. The Little Red School Book by Soren Hansen, has hit shelves for the first time since its 1969 ban.

According to The Guardian, when the book was published first time round:

Margaret Thatcher was said to have been very worried by it, The Pope denounced it as sacrilegious, and morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse successfully campaigned to have it prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act.

The Little Red School Book, whose title alludes to Chairman Mao's Little Red Book , gives straight-talking sex advice that's largely still relevant to teenagers today:

If anybody tells you it's harmful to masturbate, they're lying. If anybody tells you you mustn't do it too much, they're lying too, because you can't do it too much. Ask them how often you ought to do it. They'll usually shut up then.

The new version of the book contains only one change from the original, the 2014 update no longer encourages teens to stave off boredom at school by reading pornographic magazines under your desk .

The book was also banned in New Zealand, France, Italy, and Queensland Australia.



Offsite Article: The Most Dangerous Book...

Link Here4th July 2014
The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses. Kevin Birmingham tells the story of those for and against a notorious novel

See article from



No Shit...

UK theatre censor forced changes to Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane in 1964

Link Here18th April 2014
A psychopathic murderer character in a play had his age raised by censors as gay sex was considered too shocking at the time, new research reveals.

Gay British playwright Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane , which first premiered in 1964, was forcibly changed by the Lord Chamberlain's Office.

Emma Parker, a professor from the University of Leicester, came across several letters when she was researching for the 50th edition of the play.

Orton wrote in his letters he wanted the main character Sloane, a psychopath, to be 17 in first edition. He was made into a 20-year-old man in the later editions, making Sloane's sexual encounters with two siblings less provoking.

In Orton's letters, he also stated the Lord Chamberlain's Office had forced him to change words like shit and bugger in the play. Orton was told the actors playing Kath and Sloane were expressly forbidden to simulate copulation.

Dr Parker's new edition of Entertaining Mr Sloane will be launched at the University of Leicester's Bookshop on Tuesday 6 May at 12 pm.



Relax, Don't Do It, When You Want To Come...

30 Years since the BBC catapulted Frankie Goes to Hollywood to fame by banning Relax

Link Here 13th January 2014
This week marks the 30th anniversary of BBC banning radio play of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax .

Frankie Goes to Hollywood's debut single Relax entered the British charts in 1983 in a fairly inconspicuous manner at number 67, and then slowly climbed only as far as 35 seven weeks later.

The single never really took off until FGTH performed Relax for the first time on BBC's Top of the Pops . Within a week the single catapulted itself to number 6 and, when BBC Radio 1 disc jockey Mike Read refused to play it on his radio show, thousands of inquisitive teenagers went straight to their local record shop to find out what all the fuss was about In doing so it put the record at number 1 in the charts by January 24th, where it remained for five consecutive weeks and became the biggest selling single of 1984.

Mike Read said he found the graphical images of the record sleeve and the song lyrics sexually suggestive, distasteful and should be banned. In fact the BBC had already decided to ban the record from its daytime playlists anyway. The ban unsurprisingly backfired on the BBC, drew more attention to the song and became more of an embarrassment to them as the song was being played elsewhere by commercial radio stations and TV channels.

The band publicly denied that the lyrics were of a sexual nature, even going as far as to suggest that the BBC directors and Mike Read were reading more into this than was apparent, thus questioning what sort of deviants the BBC were employing. Later however the band retracted any public pretence about the suggestive nature of the song.



Extract: Mr Dirty Books...

Northern Ireland's first sex shop in 1982 wound up the government

Link Here29th December 2013
The opening of Northern Ireland's first sex shop in the early 1980s caused such a stir that officials considered reviewing 125-year-old obscenity laws.

The store opened in east Belfast in 1982, with pickets from Christian groups telling the owners of Mr Dirty Books they were unwelcome on the Castlereagh Road.

Newly released state papers reveal that privately, civil servants and officials were so shocked by its opening that they looked at updating the law on the sale of pornography, and enlisted legal advice.

...Read the full article



Extract: Censored by the BBC...

Pythons reveal that they were banned from using the word 'masturbation'

Link Here10th December 2013
From an interview with the Monty Python team:

Michael Palin says that everyone brought a different perspective to the writing. John and Graham were quite angry. Eric was very witty and funny and verbal, Terry and I were a little bit more surreal and whimsical, he says. There were no rules. You could put in what you wanted to. An important factor in its success, he says, was the artistic freedom they were allowed by the BBC. The thing about Python was our determination to control our own material. We weren't easy to dictate to.

In the third series, though, Palin says, the BBC started making some fairly ridiculous censorship decisions . A battle over one particular sketch saw all six Pythons in a heated argument with the head of comedy. We fought them for the right to say 'masturbation', he says.

Did they say it? It was cut out. We recorded it. It was the man in the Summarise Proust Competition whose hobbies were strangling animals, golf and masturbating. They just cut the word, so you had: My hobbies are strangling animals, golf... short pause, huge laugh... So what was so funny about golf?

...Read the full interview



Extract: Crossing Battlefield Lines...

DH Lawrence poetry from the time of the First World War was rendered unintelligible by state censors

Link Here24th March 2013

DH Lawrence was an infamous victim of the censor as his sexually explicit novel Lady Chatterley's Lover was banned in Britain until 1960. Now a new edition of Lawrence's poems, many rendered unreadable by the censor's pen, will reveal him as a brilliant war poet whose work attacking British imperialism during the first world war was barred from publication.

His poems took aim at politicians, the brutality of the first world war and English repression. But censorship and sloppy editing rendered them virtually meaningless, to the extent that the full extent of his poetic talent has been overlooked.

Deleted passages have now been restored and hundreds of punctuation errors removed for a major two-volume edition to be published on 28 March by Cambridge University Press..

The new volume's editor, Christopher Pollnitz, told the Observer that what was removed from the poems -- by state censors or publishers fearing government intervention -- was the ultimate censorship , because extensive and significant cuts made the texts virtually unreadable.

Lines now restored identify places such as Salonika and Mesopotamia -- explosive references at the time, Pollnitz said:

While the war was continuing, the worst defeat the British suffered was in Mesopotamia ... General Townshend's charge up the Tigris towards Baghdad was one of the most costly and wasteful ventures, in lives and money, of the first world war.

See the full article



Unsheathed Swords...

Benjamin's Britten's opera, The Rape of Lucretia cut in 1946

Link Here24th December 2012

One of Benjamin Britten's most famous operas was censored and branded obscene before it reached the stage, a new biography of the composer will reveal.

The original version of The Rape of Lucretia was branded obscene and was censored before it reached the stage.

Records from the Lord Chamberlain's Office, which had powers of censorship over theatrical productions at the time, reveal how the work caused 'outrage' with its sexually-suggestive language.

The opera, written in 1946 by Britten and the librettist Ronald Duncan, was originally inspired by a Shakespeare poem. It tells the classical tale of the rape of Lucretia, a Roman noblewoman, by Tarquinius, a prince -- leading to her suicide and a popular uprising against the king.

Britten's original arrangement saw the Male Chorus singing:

He takes her hand
And places it upon his unsheathed sword

followed by the Female Chorus singing:

Thus wounding her with an equal lust
A wound only his sword can heal

A theatre censor wrote:

I most certainly think we should draw the line at the somewhat transparent effort by the Chorus on page 5 of Act II to wrap up an ugly fact in pretty language. It is little better than the obscenities in Lady Chatterley's Lover.

The licence to perform The Rape of Lucretia was only granted subject to the removal of the offending lines. For the opera's first performance in July 1946, they were replaced with:

Tarquinius: Poised like a dart
Lucretia : At the heart of woman
Male Chorus: Man climbs towards his God
Female Chorus: Then falls to his lonely hell

The findings appear in Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century by Paul Kildea which is set to be published on 3rd February next year to mark the composer's centenary.


31st May

 Offsite: Daring Sex Films...

Link Here
1932 BBFC Annual Report

See article from


23rd October

Still Fettered...

Lady Chatterley trial - 50 years on.
Link Here

Fifty years ago this week, amid extraordinary international publicity, the Old Bailey was the venue for a trial that did more to shape 21st-century Britain than hundreds of politicians put together. The case of the Crown versus Penguin Books opened on Friday, October 21, 1960, when courtroom officials handed copies of perhaps the most notorious novel of the century, D H Lawrence's book Lady Chatterley's Lover, to nine men and three women, and asked them to read it. They were not, however, allowed to take the book out of the jury room. Only if Penguin were acquitted of breaking the Obscene Publications Act would it be legal to distribute it.

What followed, said one eyewitness, was a circus so hilarious, fascinating, tense and satisfying that none who sat through all its six days will ever forget them . But it was a circus that changed Britain forever.

On November 2, after just three hours' deliberation, the jury acquitted Penguin Books of all charges. Almost immediately, the book became a best-seller. In 15 minutes, Foyles sold 300 copies and took orders for 3,000 more. Hatchards sold out in 40 minutes; Selfridges sold 250 copies in half an hour. In one Yorkshire town, a canny butcher sold copies of the book beside his lamb chops.

And yet there was another side to the story, often ignored by the history books. Outside intellectual high society, most ordinary people in 1960 remained deeply conservative, and the Home Office was flooded with letters of protest. In Edinburgh, copies were burned on the streets; in South Wales, women librarians asked permission not to handle it; from Surrey, one anguished woman wrote to the home secretary, explaining that her teenage daughter was at boarding school and she was terrified that day girls there may introduce this filthy book .

Comment: What an exaggerated article

From readers comments by IanBB

What an exaggerated article. The fetters were off . Were they indeed? How then did Britain remain the most censored country in Europe, how then did Britain enact the infamous Video Recordings Act in 1984 that brought in Draconian censorship to stop people watching a few erotic videos and bad foreign horror movies? How then did it take until the year 2000 to partially legalise real pornography- that is, showing the act itself- still under the rigorous control of that arch-quango, the BBFC?

How then did the (Labour) government just last year bring in new censorship laws controlling mere cartoons, the breaking of which laws doesn't just mean a fine or a short prison sentence, but the total ruin of the convicted person via the Sex Offenders Register?

Offsite: The trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover

23rd October 2010. See  article from by Geoffrey Robertson QC

The Old Bailey has, for centuries, provided the ultimate arena for challenging the state. But of all its trials – for murder and mayhem, for treason and sedition – none has had such profound social and political consequences as the trial in 1960 of Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover . The verdict was a crucial step towards the freedom of the written word, at least for works of literary merit (works of no literary merit were not safe until the trial of Oz in 1971, and works of demerit had to await the acquittal of Inside Linda Lovelace in 1977). But the Chatterley trial marked the first symbolic moral battle between the humanitarian force of English liberalism and the dead hand of those described by George Orwell as the striped-trousered ones who rule , a battle joined in the 1960s on issues crucial to human rights, including the legalisation of homosexuality and abortion, abolition of the death penalty and of theatre censorship, and reform of the divorce laws. The acquittal of Lady Chatterley was the first sign that victory was achievable, and with the guidance of the book's great defender, Gerald Gardiner QC (Labour lord chancellor 1964–70), victory was, in due course, achieved.


24th June

Review: Secrecy and the Media...

The Official History of the D-notice System: 1
Link Here

The official history of the D notice system, the voluntary self-censorship arrangement between the media and Whitehall, has just been published - though, ironically, only after five chapters had been excised.

The history, written by Rear Admiral Nicholas Wilkinson, one of the more enlightened past secretaries of the Committee, provides telling insights into the relationships between editors and Britain's defence, security and intelligence establishment. The voluntary nature of the D notice system - it has no legal status - meant that personal friendships were crucial. Some would say they still are.

Plans are afoot to publish the full history - including the past 12 years - as soon as Labour is out of power. Self-censorship acts in mysterious ways.


20th October

Silent History Lesson...

Silencing Sinn Fein in 1988
Link Here

It began as a new counter-terrorism strategy aimed at silencing the apologists for terror and denying them the oxygen of publicity. That, at least, is how the prime minister of the day, Margaret Thatcher, and her home secretary, Douglas Hurd, defended their decision, in October 1988, to introduce some of the most stringent controls imposed on the broadcast media since World War Two.

The broadcasting ban, or 'Restrictions' as they were officially known, extended to 11 republican and loyalist organisations believed to support terrorism, but many believed that Sinn Féin and the IRA were the main targets.

Newspapers would be permitted to carry statements from those organisations, and television news programmes would be permitted to show images of spokesmen at press conferences, but their voices would have to be removed.

With 20 years' worth of hindsight, Douglas Hurd now says he accepts that the ban soon became enormously counter-productive. Not least because broadcasters quickly found a way to subvert the terms of the new law by having actors re-voice the words spoken by Sinn Féin spokesmen.

When a similar ban had been introduced by the Republic of Ireland in 1971, the Irish government saw to it that their prohibition could not be circumvented by this kind of dubbing.

Unaccountably, when the British government introduced its restrictions, in the wake of a major atrocity, it left a legislative back door open which journalists soon used as a route to get their story out.

Satirists lampooned the ban, free speech campaigners across the world questioned the Thatcher government's commitment to democratic values, and even the reputation of the BBC, as a politically independent broadcaster, suffered.

Despite the legislations' loopholes and the reaction against it, Danny Morrison, Sinn Féin's former director of publicity, maintains that the ban, which remained in place for six years, seriously frustrated Sinn Féin's media strategy at the time and ultimately harmed the party electorally.

The story has recently been retold in the BBC Radio Ulster programme, The War Of The Words, presented by William Crawley and produced by Owen McFadden.


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