Not everyone was as keen on Punk Rock as us, some people just didn’t “get” it.
Mary Whitehouse was the president of the U.K.’s National Viewers and Listeners Association from, sshhhh, dare we say…its “conception” in 1965, until she finally retired in 1994. During her tenure, Mary campaigned relentlessly on issues which she believed harmed the moral sensibilities of the nation; the usual suspects of swearing, sex, and violence topped her list, and obviously Punk Rock itself did not go unnoticed. Having spent the better part of the 1970s mounting (whoops…sorry) campaigns and decrying practically everything on the BBC, except presumably, the programmes on which she was often interviewed, as she became the go-to voice of cartoon outrage. Peering at the world through her massive pair (oops…sorry) of wing-tipped prescription lenses, ‘neath a battle-helmet of sternly fixed grey hair, Mary saw obscenity, and immorality in almost everything. From successfully hampering the well-known dangerous, filth-monger Alice Cooper from performing “School’s Out” on the BBC – for fear of inspiring school-children for the very first time in the history of the world to not like school, to challenging the “violent and obscene” television programme Dr Who, which she called “brutality for tots”. Alice responded by sending Mary a chart-topping sized bunch of flowers, crediting her rabid and ravenous tutting as being exactly the kind of well-publicised leg-up he needed to reach the Number One slot on that week’s Charts. Nothing escaped Mary’s ever watchful eye. Always sprightly and enthusiastic in her campaigning, she ran the NVALA from a back-room of her semi in Colchester, and listed her hobbies as bible reading, gardening, and watching the snooker. However, not wanting to be remembered as an over-zealous spoil-sport, Mary introduced a NVALA Annual Awards scheme, so that programmes she considered to be positive role models, those that embraced the high moral values she considered of utmost importance could be recognised for their efforts. In 1977 she used her well trained eye to lavish the NVALA award for “Wholesome Family Entertainment” to errrr….Jimmy Savile.
“I’m not shocked by Punk, I’m shamed by it” from an interview in Lech Kowalski’s film “DOA – A Rite of Passage” (1980). Mary can be found at about 10m 33s.
Naturally, Mary became something of a figure of fun, so much so that by the 1980s she was practically a verb; to Hoover, to Xerox, to come over all Mary Whitehouse. Sadly no longer with us, Mary is remembered in song by Punk bands such as The Adicts, Organised Chaos, Serious Damage and X-Cretas who were all inspired to write tunes named “Mary Whitehouse” in her honour.
Further viewing : Mary Whitehouse television documentary 1994