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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Memorial held for Mary Whitehouse
Mary Whitehouse
Whitehouse started campaigning at the age of 53
Friends and supporters of television campaigner Mary Whitehouse gathered to remember her life on Wednesday, vowing to continue her work.

Mrs Whitehouse, who founded the Clean Up TV Campaign in 1964, died after a long illness in November 2001, at the age of 91.

Among those paying tribute to Mrs Whitehouse's tireless work were former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, former Tory minister Anne Widdecombe, BBC Radio 2 presenter Don Maclean and Sir Cliff Richard, via a taped message.

The service was held at All Souls Church in Langham Place, central London, close to BBC Broadcasting House.

Joan Tagg
Joan Tagg travelled to London for the memorial to show her support for Mary Whitehouse and her work
It was the corporation that sparked her campaign to raise standards in broadcasting, when at the age of 53 she was disgusted by a programme on pre-marital sex.

She founded the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, which became Mediawatch.

Her tireless activism made her the scourge of broadcasters as she campaigned for less sex and violence on television.

John Milton Whatmore, chairman of Mediawatch-UK, vowed the fight would continue by "building a bridge between grassroots opinion and ivory towers".


A message from singer Sir Cliff was played to the amassed congregation.

"I had total admiration for her," he said.

"I was always hit by her sincerity. No-one's right all the time, and I am not sure she was, but you can't get over the fact that she was concerned enough to put herself up into the firing line over and over again.

"Most of us want to go out and set the world on fire and most of us only ever make a spark. But she made a big spark."

Mrs Whitehouse's targets ranged from Benny Hill to movies such as Marlon Brando's Last Tango in Paris.

Anne Widdecombe and Mary Whitehouse
Anne Widdecombe was welcomed at he church by Richard Whitehouse, the son of Mary
Mr Milton Whatmore added: "Mediawatch-UK, Mary, is not going away. Our work will be undiminished by your passing.

"At the end of the day the people who make sordid programmes like Eurotrash and Club Reps are normal people just like you and me.

"Mediawatch-UK is after their hearts and minds."

But not everyone was a supporter of her views.

Pilloried and mocked

The Reverend Lyndon Bowring said in his eulogy that Mrs Whitehouse never gave up the campaign despite the battle she faced.

"I know of nobody more persecuted, more pilloried and more mocked than Mary, to the extent that a pornographic magazine was published with her name as its title," he said.

Many of the supporters she had over the years turned out with banners, announcing their respect for Mrs Whitehouse and her work.

Mediawatch is organising a march through London on 11 May.

It plans to hand over a petition signed by 50,000 people, calling for stronger obscenity laws and for taste and decency to be regulated under the forthcoming Communications Bill.

See also:

23 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Whitehouse 'kept TV on its toes'
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