Banned documentary

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Simon36
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Banned documentary

Post by Simon36 »

Can anyone help with a memory here. I recall in the late 80s, Channel 4 screening a run of previously banned programmes. The only one I have any recollection of was a mid-70s ITV documentary about female sexuality, which was basically a group of women sitting in someone's living room talking. Every so often the screen would go blank, as certain shots were still deemed unsuitable for broadcast.

Does anyone remember what this was, and what else was in that season? It’s the only time I can recall a programme actually being broadcast with bits “blanked out”, which seemed a bit bizarre as by the late 80s full frontal nudity was certainly not uncommon on tv.

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Billy Smart
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Re: Banned documentary

Post by Billy Smart »

That is the 1976 Thames Television documentary Women, Sex and Identity from the series Sex In Our Time, directed by Stuart Hall.

tx. 16 April 1991, as part of Channel 4's epic, groundbreaking, 'Banned' season.

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Billy Smart
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Re: Banned documentary

Post by Billy Smart »

Steve Williams, Ian Jones and Jack Kibble-White's overview of 1991 on the old Off The Telly website has a decent precis of the 'Banned' season:
Banned

Channel 4′s three-week Banned season in April 1991 almost never made it to screen at all. Comprising numerous programmes and films tackling TV taboos, Banned had been conceived not just as a showcase for notorious topics but also as a larger statement about the censorship of broadcasting in the 1990s. The contents of the season, however, provoked discord amongst C4′s management team, the chief concern being whether the message would be lost amidst inevitable press controversy and potential legal fallout. So while Scum, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Sebastiane were all transmitted, Jo Menell’s explicit film Dick was axed, Sex in Our Time had a short sequence of gynaecological photographs cut, while WR: Mysteries of the Organism had footage of intercourse layered with computer generated goldfish, starbursts and rainbows. Moreover, the resultant publicity did indeed overshadow more sobering items – such as the broadcast of an episode of Secret Society police had previously confiscated from the BBC’s offices – and Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Squad made headlines when they threatened the channel with prosecution. Veneration eventually came in the shape of an International Emmy for the film Damned in the USA, but that itself had been at the centre of a $6m lawsuit which it took C4 months to fight and ultimately win. Banned proved many points, but was a venture that could never be repeated.

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Re: Banned documentary

Post by ITMA »

Presented by Tony Bilbow. It went way beyond full frontal, there were closeups of genitals and possibly masturbation.

(Billy beat me to it; interesting that it says just photographs, obviously it wasn't obvious because the 1991 replay blanked out these scenes as mentioned in the OP).

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Simon36
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Re: Banned documentary

Post by Simon36 »

Fascinating stuff, thanks everyone. I'm very surprised that Google throws up virtually nothing. I did however find this in an archived edition of Gay Left online:

In 1976, Thames Television (sophisticated, metropolitan London's other independent company) pulled its seven-part documentary Sex In Our Time out of its schedules, despite a chorus of protest from its own employees, critics, gays and feminists. Television documentaries have a generic licence to be 'partial' which current affairs series like Gay Life lack (see below), and Sex was only intermittently partial. Often, as in its very selective choice of featured interviews (e.g. the woman who'd apparently been rendered hysterically frigid by supposed feminist injunctions to sleep around !!??) the
Thames series surveyed 'changing social mores' with the chilly hauteur of Lady Bracknell considering the number of engagements in Hertfordshire. (Co-compere Sarah Dickinson to feminist therapist Elearnor Stephens: 'Do you all lie on the floor and masturbate?')

Nonetheless, the very inclusion of matter such as feminists viewing slides of female genitalia displeased the watchdogs of the Independent Broadcasting Authority and the Thames management. In the supposed interests of 'taste, decency and public feeling' the shows were scrapped".

I wonder what the other six episodes focused on, and why the series as a whole was banned, or would it be possible the other six were never actually completed?

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Re: Banned documentary

Post by SgtPepper »

I don't know if it was anything to do with this season of banned stuff (good word that) but I remember Channel 4 showing a programme about censorship and showing stuff that had been cut from films. A lot of it was rape and violence from films like Death Wish 2 and I recall one bloke saying how poor an actress Susan George was even while being raped (not in Death Wish 2, just something she was in). It was very surprising stuff to show on TV. It obviously wasn't part of the "banned" season as such as it was a new programme, but there might have been a tie in somewhere.

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Juswuh
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Re: Banned documentary

Post by Juswuh »

Pretty sure that was a documentary about the BBFC shown at the time of the Banned season. As well as Death Wish 2 there was a section about Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, showing how a home invasion scene that was un-passable in its original form had been re-edited to compromise as best they could.

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Re: Banned documentary

Post by Juswuh »

By the way, they might have been talking about Susan George in Straw Dogs. Even a few years ago that was still a controversial film to get an 18 certificate uncut.

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Simon36
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Re: Banned documentary

Post by Simon36 »

I can remember the staggeringly ill-judged comment about Susan George vividly. It came straight after a clip from
Straw Dogs was shown and the host asked one of the participants if he found that sequence disturbing. I think this was much later than the 1991 banned season, but can’t remember what the programme was.

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Re: Banned documentary

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

I was recently checking through some pages from the The Stage relating to It's A Lovely Day Tomorrow, and noticed at the time that there's a large piece on the banning of Sex in Our Time on the same page as one of them - page 13 of the edition of Thursday 25 November 1976. It details a joint letter to The Times, published on Tuesday 23 November, by 49 members of Thames's current affairs staff, including Jonathan Dimbleby and David Elstein, protesting the banning.
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

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