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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 May, 2004, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Mary Whitehouse's memory lives on
Mary Whitehouse
Mrs Whitehouse's protests helped create the Broadcasting Standards Council
Supporters of the broadcastings standards campaigner Mary Whitehouse are celebrating the 40th anniversary of one of her most famous speeches.

The Wolverhampton school teacher demanded that television cleaned up its act in front of 2,000 people at Birmingham Town Hall in 1964.

Her speech triggered a new social movement, the Clean-Up TV Campaign.

On Saturday, her successors, Mediawatch UK, will stand on the steps of the hall and read out her speech to the public.

'Violent society'

Mrs Whitehouse's protests helped create the Broadcasting Standards Council, now called Ofcom.

Mediawatch UK say they want to remind people of the need to demand high standards from programme makers.

"If violence is shown as normal on the television screen it will help to create a violent society," she warned followers in 1964.

In a letter to her devotees after her Birmingham address, she wrote: "What a wonderful experience the evening was.

Mary tapped into people's reaction to the values that were being imposed on us by things like The Wednesday Play on the BBC
John Beyer, Mediawatch UK
"The sight of the packed hall of 2,000 people and the singing of the National Anthem was unforgettable."

John Beyer, head of Mediawatch UK said: "We wanted to have the meeting in Birmingham Town Hall but it's being renovated so we're doing it on the steps outside.

"All the scaffolding and construction work won't actually be a distraction, when you remember that Mary was also a builder trying to build a better society.

"Mary tapped into people's reaction to the values that were being imposed on us by things like The Wednesday Play on the BBC."

For more than 30 years Whitehouse was a household name, earning support and hostility in equal measure as she railed against the "poison being poured into millions of homes through television".

Speaking after her death in 2001 Michael Grade said: "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 all over the land about the content of television.

"She was 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."


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