Are We Cleaning Up or Getting Dirty with Filth, Masterpiece Contemporary?

Coming up on Sunday, November 16 at 9 PM (check local listings) on PBS is the latest contemporary – yet decidedly period piece– from Masterpiece Contemporary . Based on a true story and a real person, it’s a tale of a moral watchdog nipping (and more) at the heels of 1960’s rockin’ England with its’ ‘free love’ attitude. This is more satire and humorous take on this woman who truly did make England sit up and take notice of her– and her point of view.
The point of this dramatic comedy ( or is it comedic drama) is what’s really suitable for broadcast televsion. Based on what’s currently on tv these days, one has to wonder what Mary Whitehouse ,the UK watchdog, would do now that morality seems to be a thing of the past– where foul language is banned yet it’s ok to hack a man to death with great detali.
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According to the executive producer, Rebecca Eaton, “Filth is perfect … because it’s an entertaining, sympathetic and provocative take on this subject”. Well-said because given a comparison of television in the 60’s and now in the 21st century, Whitehouse might be far more white-haired than she was then.
Yet this mature woman single-handedly took on the BBC and its leader Sir Hugh Greene and creates a grass-roots movement, ” Clean Up TV” to fight the filth, violence and degradation as exemplified by smoking, drinking and “open mad kisses” on the telly. Starting with a letter-writing campaign that is ignored by Greene, Whitehouse pushes back and refuses to be ignored and gains significant public attention by getting a particular show censored.
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There’s so much more to this story and the legacy of Mary Whitehouse lives on today as Mediawatch-UK to provide a watchdog for decency. Julie Walters nails this woman precisely as Greene would have seen her yet Walters also presents the rationale that makes her seem at some points to be on the mark about the television as much then as she would be morally outraged about television today.
Definitely “must see” tv, this show should be DVR’d or stay up and watch it. It’s a deftly handled topic that should resonate with most and actually make some serious points about the current state of affairs on tv (pun intended)
Stevie Wilson

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Author: Stevie Wilson

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