Friday, October 26, 2012

The BBC...

...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."


Alenka said...

Having worked for many years for the BBC, I'm saddened and ashamed by the recent revelations about the alleged sordid culture in some parts of the Corporation.
But please don't tar the whole BBC with this brush. Take, for example, the part played by the BBC World Service, which, during the Cold War, was the only channel by which people living under Communism were able to hear balanced and accurate news, by which they could hear priests broadcasting the Christian message, by which they could hear their traditional Christmas songs and the words "Happy Christmas". Even today, the BBC continues to be a lifeline for people in suffering parts of the world.
And not just that, if you were exposed to years of American television, you would appreciate what a beacon of excellence the BBC has often been, in its news and current affairs coverage, in its high quality documentaries and dramas.
In my years with the World Service and BBC News, I worked with many, many people from all parts of the Corporation, whose strong principles I deeply admired, who used their immense talent to provide information and entertainment for millions of people, who sometimes risked their lives to report from conflict zones and without whom the world would be a poorer place. I agree with much of what you say,Joanna but let's remember that it's not the whole story!

Joanna Bogle said...

Fair comment. I do value, and so do a great many people across the world, so much of what the BBC has done over the years.


Malcolm said...

The problem is that there were only three channels, competition to become a regular presenter on one of those channels was intense, and it fostered a sense of superiority in the successsful few, along with a general culture of contempt for the audience.