Mary Whitehouse

British conservative activist (1910–2001)

Constance Mary Whitehouse (13 June 1910 – 23 November 2001) was an English Christian morality activist who opposed social liberalism and the 'permissive society'. In particular, via the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, she campaigned against television programmes the pressure group found objectionable on 'taste and decency' grounds.

Quotes edit

1960s edit

"Up the Junction" (The Wednesday Play, 1965) edit

  • The BBC seems determined to do everything in its power to present promiscuity as normal. What I found most hypocritical was that ostensibly the abortion scenes were meant to show its horror: but there was no attempt to point out that normal clean living would obviate such a fearful thing.
  • It is a deliberate affront to the people to whom it gave so much offence by its near pornography and calculated bias. It would seem the BBC are out to test whether they have managed to condition people into accepting now what they rebelled against last year.

1970s edit

  • [Television] may teach self-interest rather than philanthropy, violence rather than gentleness, a disregard for human dignity rather than a respect for it. It may not always teach the truth but teach it does, and it is more than time that responsible people both within and outside the broadcasting professions said boldly what is so obvious in commonsense terms — we cannot understand what is happening in international, cultural, economic, political and social affairs without coming to grips with the way in which television influences virtually all our behavioural and thought processes.
  • Till Death Us Do Part: "I doubt if many people would use 121 bloodies in half-an-hour."
    "Bad language coarsens the whole quality of our life. It normalises harsh, often indecent language, which despoils our communication."
  • Jackanory: "Completely irresponsible"
  • Dr Who: "Contains some of the sickest, most horrible material"
    • As quoted by Jonathan Brown in "Mary Whitehouse: To some a crank, to others a warrior", The Independent (24 November 2001).
    • For the Jackanory complaint (actually relating to the spin-off Jackanory Playhouse series), see "TV Scene Anger" The Guardian (9 September 1974), p. 6. The Doctor Who reference is to "The Brain of Morbius" (1976) from a letter sent by Mary Whitehouse reported in other sources as "some of the sickest and most horrific material seen on children's television".

Whatever happened to sex? (1978) edit

  • The natural repugnance which most people feel when homosexuality and lesbianism is mentioned can result in a harshness of attitude and thinking which is, at least, unhelpful and certainly as unchristian as the perverse practices which are condemned. But to go to the other extreme and elevate people suffering from such abnormalities into a norm for society not only threatens society but is dangerous to the individuals themselves, since it excludes them from the consideration of treatment.
    • p. 84
  • Scientific research shows that the human brain is formed at the age of three months of foetal life and that from that time on there is a continuous learning process at work — everything heard from them then on will be stored in the memory and will have its effect. [E. J.] Kallmann maintains that the primary homosexual is entirely precipitated by abnormal (in terms of moral as well as physical norms) sexual behaviour of parents during pregnancy or just after.
    • p. 86
  • [I]t is because one is aware that many psychiatrists do believe homosexuality to be an illness that one is so against the proselytising of the young which is so large a part of the work of the organised homosexuals.
    • p. 86

Quotes about Whitehouse edit

In alphabetical order by author or source.
  • 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.
    • Philip Hinchcliffe, as quoted in the documentary on the DVD "Doctor Who: The Pyramids of Mars", BBC Worldwide, 2004
  • She was in some obvious senses narrow-minded. She believed with passion that she was promoting virtue and righteousness; but her overriding puritanism determined that 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.
  • Let us take inspiration from that admirable woman, Mary Whitehouse. I do not accept all her ideas, she will not accept all mine. Yet we can see in her a shining example of what one person can do single-handedly when inspired by faith and compassion. An unknown middle-aged woman, a schoolteacher in the Midlands, set out to protect adolescents against the permissiveness of our time. Look at the scale of the opposing forces. On the one side, the whole of the new establishment, with their sharp words and sneers poised. Against them stood this one middle-aged woman. Today, her name is a household word, made famous by the very assaults on her by her enemies. She has mobilised and given fresh hearts to many who see where this current fashion is leading. Her book, Who Does She Think She Is? took its title from the outraged cry of an acolyte of the new hierarchy, who asked how an unknown woman dare speak up against the BBC, the educators and false shepherds. We too can take courage from her, and dedicate ourselves to fighting back on issues which will decide the nation's future far more than economics, however important it remains.
  • She'll be sadly missed, I imagine, but not by me.
    • Bernard Manning, as quoted by John Ezard in "Campaigner Mary Whitehouse dies, aged 91", The Guardian (24 November 2001)
  • I was far from happy too about the way in which the programme handled Mrs Mary Whitehouse on the occasion of the publication of her book Cleaning Up TV. This was done by [Bernard] Braden telling his audience what he thought Mrs Whitehouse's creed was — "I thought she was against violence ... I thought she was for censorship" — and then by cutting to Mrs Whitehouse herself and getting a short edited quote which contradicted his assumption.
    Thus when Mrs Whitehouse declared she was against censorship we were not told that according to her own book she is for it if it were “the only way of preventing the gradual erosion of our Christian values and the character of the nation". ...
    And Judging by the evidence of her book she feels that we are getting perilously close to that state. In other words, by her own standards, we are not very far away from the need for the very censorship Mrs Whitehouse claims she is against.
  • [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.
    • Elisabeth Sladen, as quoted in the documentary on the DVD "Doctor Who: The Pyramids of Mars", BBC Worldwide, 2004
  • Hey you, Whitehouse / Ha ha, charade you are ... You're trying to keep our feelings off the street ... Mary, you're nearly a treat / But you're really a cry
    • Roger Waters, 1977 (lyrics to the Pink Floyd song "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" on the album Animals)

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