...was one of the first big organisations that was the reciever of indignant letters and protests from the author of this Blog and her friends and colleagues, years and years ago in the 1970s...that was in the days when we were young campaigners and sickened by its bias against Christian and moral values. It was so frustrating that protests against the display of sexually explicit material were dismissed, and that vulgarity and sexual crudity were assumed to be wholly acceptable and rather clever. It was rare, on the Beeb, to have a fair discussion of the great social issues of the day: instead there always seemed to be an assumption that it was neccessary to promote a particular secular, political skewed world-view which reflected a sort Guardian-reading-London-dinner-party pomposity. This was especially true of any programme that discussed sexual morality, or even news programmes covering related topics (eg a pro-life march or rally, and there were a number of huge pro-life events in Britain in those days).
And now...the sordid everyday reality of life at the Beeb in those days is emerging: staff being subjected to sexual overtures, paedophile activities quietly ignored, a culture of acceptance of horrible behaviour. What we all long suspected turns out to be true: this was an organisation where immoral and even gross behaviour was regarded as normal, and opposition to it as merely narrow-minded and absurd.
Mary Whitehouse, the leader of the "Clean Up TV" campaign, which became the National Viewers and Listeners Association, was widely derided as a prude.. For years, she was deemed to be a "non person" at the Beeb, even though she became a national figure as her campaign gathered strength. I was and am very proud to be have been one of her young supporters
and, as the years went by, a friend. She was brave, dedicated, and
loyal - a woman of great faith who spent time in prayer each day,
reading the Bible each morning and night with devotion. Mary and Ernest
had a happy home life and were a real example to younger people
The NVALA organised excellent meetings and conferences discussing the role of the media, morality, education, and family and community life. It sponsored awards for good programmes, ran events for schools and youth groups, trained people for TV and radio work. It was a voice for thousands of people who saw the massive influence of TV, and knew that the mass media would expand further and further and be a gigantic influence on all our lives. Evidence was mounting that Britain's tragic rates of divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, and youth crime were going to cause gigantic problems, and that the influence of the mass media was a major factor in determining people's lifestyles.
Campaigning had its dangers: Mary Whitehouse recieved death threats from pornographers and from promoters of paedophilia, was sent vile things through the post, was physically threatened and abused , and sometimes needed police protection. But her work of NVALA, and associated groups grew and flourished, and ideas and values and hopes were passed on.
And back then, lots of people used to say "One day, Mary Whitehouse will be proved right."