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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 18:14 GMT
Whitehouse 'kept TV on its toes'
Mary Whitehouse
Mary Whitehouse: A controversial figure
Tributes have started to come in for broadcasting standards campaigner Mary Whitehouse, who has died aged 91.

A spokesman for the BBC said Mrs Whitehouse's work had enlivened countless programmes.

"Mary Whitehouse kept broadcasters on their toes with her feisty and dedicated campaigning style.


I have heard it said that if she hadn't existed broadcasters would have had to invent her

John Beyer, Mediawatch
"She made sure the voices of many viewers were heard by the most influential broadcasting executives in the UK and her contribution enlivened countless BBC programmes. She will be long remembered."

Patricia Hodgson, chief executive of the Independent Television Commission, said: "Mary Whitehouse showed great courage in campaigning for values she believed in when they were not fashionable.

"She reminded broadcasters of the need to take account of all shades of opinion among viewers and listeners."

Veteran entertainer Bruce Forsyth said television needed more people like Mrs Whitehouse.

"She may have been a little bit over the top at times but TV has become so very, very crude, with the language and subjects and everything. I think we need a few Mary Whitehouses right now," he told ITV News.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said: "Mary Whitehouse made an enormous contribution to public life. Her belief that standards and decency were important brought her into conflict with some of the accepted norms of her day.

"But, in her time, she spoke for many people who were disturbed at things they saw and heard."

Shadow culture secretary Tim Yeo said: "I would like to pay tribute to Mary Whitehouse, who was an energetic and respected campaigner who remained wholly committed to her views throughout her life."


She was very witty, she was a great debater, she was very courageous

Lord Grade

The organisation Mrs Whitehouse headed, the National Viewers and Listeners Association, is now called Mediawatch.

Director John Beyer said:"Mary was profoundly compassionate and caring in her concern about television, film and the media with the influence it has on our society, especially children and the rising generations.

"Above all she was concerned that children and young people were allowed to mature and grow up at their own rate rather than have it imposed from outside.

"Although she was often seen as a thorn in the side of the upper echelons of TV, I have heard it said that if she hadn't existed broadcasters would have had to invent her."

'No effect'

Lord Grade, the ex-chief executive of Channel 4 and former controller of BBC One, described her as "courageous".

"First of all one is sad that her distinguished life has come to an end," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

"I think she had little or no effect on the content of television but she was a very sincere campaigner and she and I debated the length and breadth of the land over the content of television.

"She represented a view that people would like to see on television, a world that was idealistic and not the world as we know it.

But he added: "She was a very strong campaigner and you had to take her seriously, I think - particularly she had the ear of Mrs Thatcher when Mrs Thatcher was in No 10.

"She was very witty, she was a great debater, she was very courageous and she had a very sincere view but it was out of touch entirely with the real world."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Torin Douglas
"Mary Whitehouse forced broadcasters to justify what they did"
Former TV executive Michael Grade
"She was a very sincere campaigner"
Lord Rees Mogg,
first chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Council, says broadcasters had respect for her
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