ROLAND WHITE reviews last night's TV: Mrs W might have been right

ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV: Mrs W and her trusty typewriter might have been right all along

Banned! The Mary Whitehouse Story

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Becoming Parents: A Believer’s Guide

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So, was Mary Whitehouse a development prototype for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher?

Both women had views that were as rigid and unyielding as their hairstyles. Both were not afraid to be unpopular. Both had supportive husbands hovering quietly in the background.

Watching Banned! The Mary Whitehouse Story (BBC2), you could even make out the gestures and facial expressions in Mrs W that would later become so familiar in Mrs T.

Mary Whitehouse (pictured in 1981) was a British teacher and conservative activist who campaigned against social liberalism and the mainstream British media

Mary Whitehouse (pictured in 1981) was a British teacher and conservative activist who campaigned against social liberalism and the mainstream British media

Whitehouse was an art teacher who occasionally taught sex education. Not that she ever mentioned sex during the lessons, according to two former pupils. Quite an achievement, that.

In 1964 she launched the Clean Up TV campaign, mostly in response to changes in society reflected on the BBC.

‘Last week we sat as a family and it was the dirtiest programme I have ever seen,’ she told a conference. What on earth were they watching? Perhaps Panorama was a bit racier back then.

You might think the modern BBC is haughty and patrician, but Mrs W would surely think it Donald Trump with a microphone compared to the 1960s. That was when then director-general Sir Hugh Greene announced: ‘We are going to use this organisation to change the way the rest of the country thinks. We want them to see stuff they don’t like. We don’t really care if they complain.’

He was eventually forced out, and as an act of petty revenge he bought a painting which depicted a naked, five-breasted Mrs Whitehouse. What a charmer.

But while she may have won the battle, she eventually lost the war. One woman and her trusty typewriter could not hold back the social shifts of the 1960s.

As the programme cleverly observed, however, in many ways she was actually ahead of her time. Plenty of women today might agree with her line on pornography: ‘Made by men, for men.’

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: Gods Of Snooker (BBC4) 

Alex ''Hurricane'' Higgins of Northern Ireland relaxing between shots in 1983

Alex ”Hurricane” Higgins of Northern Ireland relaxing between shots in 1983

Followed the career of Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, one of the game’s great entertainers. Former UK champion John Virgo recalled how Higgins toned down his usual flamboyant style when playing Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis. ‘He wasn’t so much like a hurricane,’ said Virgo, ‘more like a soft breeze.’

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Becoming Parents: A Believer’s Guide (BBC1) was made for all the family. The idea was to see how faith influences the tricky business of raising a child.

In this case the featured parents were Muslim. Other faiths will follow over four more episodes. The programme was wreathed in loveliness — Ali and Claire, from Bristol, were delightful.

Ali’s parents were kindly, too. A cheery imam beamed and looked as if he was having the time of his life.

The trouble is, beyond all this jollity, nothing much happened.

By Islamic tradition, a new mother puts her feet up for 40 days to recover, while members of her extended family pitch in and do all the work.

Ali’s family arrived from Qatar, dutifully did the chores and passed on the benefit of their child-rearing experience.

Claire worried, as new mums often do, that she wasn’t up to caring for a new daughter. We learned the newborn’s name. Claire went for a walk.

This is very wrong of me, I know, but I yearned for some sort of controversy. Just the smallest of minor tiffs. A raised eyebrow. Anything!

But the 40 days passed, everybody hugged, and the credits rolled.

Shame on me for wishing that a happy family moment should have been more like a soap opera.

Perhaps Mrs Whitehouse was right — we have been corrupted by decades of television.