Mary Whitehouse Versus Scum

Here’s a story told through newspaper clippings. It begins on Thursday the 15th of September, in 1983. The Belfast Telegraph tells its readers that Mary Whitehouse, the teacher who founded the National Viewers And Listeners Association, has been given leave by the High Court to seek a declaration that the Independent Broadcasting Authority breached its statutory duty when it allowed Channel 4 to broadcast the film Scum.

Scum has an interesting inception story. It was originally filmed as a Play For Today for the BBC in 1977.

The Stage – Thursday 01 September 1977

Deemed too violent, it was never aired, and later Alan Clarke re-worked it into a film that was released in cinemas in 1979.

Whitehouse arrived in court the following April, and won.

Liverpool Echo – Friday 13 April 1984

The IBA themselves had a rather different reaction to the ruling, as can be seen here:

The Stage – Thursday 19 April 1984

They said they would study the court’s decision, and noted that the Judges did not actually give Mary Whitehouse the declaration she sought.

By May, they had decided to appeal.

The Stage – Thursday 10 May 1984

It took another full year, but the IBA won their appeal.

Daily Mirror – Thursday 04 April 1985

And Whitehouse was ordered to pay £30,000 in costs.

Then, a week later, this happened.

The Stage – Thursday 11 April 1985

No-one really asked who the money came from, nor what they asked for in return.

The affair ended quietly, like this.

And still no-one asked who paid up.

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