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Bank Holiday means 'Permissive Night'

Permissive Night graphic
Watch Permissive Night on Bank Holiday Monday from 1800 BST

BBC Parliament is bringing back Late Night Line-Up, the iconic discussion programme from the 1960s.

Joan Bakewell is returning to host a special edition of the show on which she made her name, to be screened on Bank Holiday Monday.

The modern version of Late Night Line-Up will round off Permissive Night, an evening of programmes from the BBC archive chronicling a period of great social change.

On the new Late Night Line-Up panel:

  • Novelist, biographer and critic Margaret Drabble, whose works often examine the relationship between individuals and contemporary society;
  • Robert Winston, distinguished scientist fertility expert, broadcaster of series such as "The Human Body" and Child of Our Time, and Labour peer;
  • Peter Hitchens, regular columnist for the Mail on Sunday, polemicist and author of "The Abolition of Britain" and "A Brief History of Crime", both works highly critical of changes in British society since the 1960s;
  • Michael Howard QC, an MP since 1983, home secretary under John Major and former leader of the Conservative Party.
In 1964 Britain still had the death penalty, homosexual acts between men were illegal, divorce was difficult to obtain and carried great social stigma, and thousands of women risked their lives by seeking "backstreet" abortions to end unwanted pregnancies.

Social revolution

Permissive Night, also hosted by Joan Bakewell, looks back over the few short years in which the nation underwent a social revolution.

The new Late Night Line-Up panel
Joan Bakewell (centre) and guests Peter Hitchens, Michael Howard, Robert Winston and Margaret Drabble
Hanging was abolished, the divorce and abortion laws were reformed, there were new measures on race relations and the archaic laws on theatre censorship were ended.

Did the changes help create a "permissive society", as some claimed, or did the measures simply reflect how much British society itself had changed?

Permissive Night features documentaries, discussion programmes and contemporary news footage, including archive editions of Man Alive, 24 Hours and Panorama.

Sixties style

Sir Michael Parkinson is seen reporting, in his pre-chat show days, from the Pennines during the 1966 general election campaign.

Joan Bakewell
The presenter of Late-Night Line Up interviews Harold Pinter in 1969
Alan Whicker talks to celebrities and politicians about the stresses of divorce in an extract from Whicker's World.

And David Coleman hosts an edition of Talkback, in which BBC programme-makers are quizzed by members of the public, including a young David Blunkett.

Watch Permissive Night on Bank Holiday Monday on BBC Parliament from 1800 BST.

Permissive Night trailer

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Permissive Night trailer

Permissive Night schedule
22 May 08 |  BBC Parliament

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