Surviving the Mary Whitehouse experience | Letter

A BBC Two production of Zola’s Nana prompted a furious letter of condemnation, writes David Conroy

I can offer a little insight into how Mary Whitehouse operated (TV review, 29 March). In the 1960s I was in the enviable position of producer of BBC Two classic serials. We produced a wide range of dramatisations of international novels including Émile Zola’s Nana. Its content was without doubt controversial, but it was nonetheless regarded as a great work and worthy of dramatising. It certainly involved sexual attitudes and included bare breasts. Mrs Whitehouse reacted with a furious letter of condemnation, describing me with the words to the effect that I was a foul, depraved wretch who should be banned from television.

She, of course, was entitled to her opinion. However, she seemed to have forgotten that the immediately preceding novel I had produced was George Eliot’s Middlemarch, after which she had written to me wishing there were more producers like me working at the BBC.

Needless to say, she copied the Nana letter to the director general, but not the Middlemarch one.
David Conroy

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
BBC's unbelievable Mary Whitehouse experience | Media Monkey
Media Monkey: Moral campaigner's ridiculous letters to corporation to be printed in new book


06, Nov, 2012 @9:37 AM

First Night: Was BBC2's Mary Whitehouse drama fair?

The BBC delved into its own history last night with Filth: the Mary Whitehouse Story on BBC2, a comedy drama about the redoutable moral crusader.

Caitlin Fitzsimmons

29, May, 2008 @9:18 AM

Article image
Broadcasting House has Mary Whitehouse experience | Media Monkey
Media Monkey: Mediawatch-UK projects image of group’s founder onto BBC building


17, Oct, 2014 @5:14 PM

Article image
The presenters of Civilisations are getting in the way | Letters
Letters: Flying further with more presenters is the exact opposite of progress, says Roger Wilson. And the BBC series focuses too much on art, says Mick Burmeister


05, Mar, 2018 @6:06 PM

Article image
The BBC must tune in with its audiences | Letters
Letters: Jono Read thinks it is a convenient time to consider putting BBC Three back on TV screens, Margaret McGregor says BBC Four should be protected, while Jacqueline Little wants the government to lay off


09, Mar, 2020 @6:29 PM

Article image
My herpes advice for Mary Whitehouse | Letters
Letter: Stan Godfrey on almost losing his job after sending a stock reply from the health department to a prolific correspondent


08, Apr, 2022 @4:08 PM

Last night's TV: Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story

Little on television escaped the wrath of Mary Whitehouse. Not even Pinky and Perky

Nancy Banks-Smith

28, May, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
A Special School makes for a TV treat | Brief letters
Brief letters: SEN success | Double your rubbish | Easy peeler | Mouse fathers | Wheely wild words | Concentric curls

12, Mar, 2023 @4:45 PM

Article image
Simon Reeve looks far beyond Beyoncé | Letter
Letter: Reeve deserves respect as a serious-minded television documentary-maker, writes Alison Skilbeck


29, Oct, 2019 @6:34 PM

The Mary Whitehouse experience

Open Thread: As BBC2 broadcasts a drama based on the life of the legendary campaigner, is it time someone stepped in to temper the extremes of today's media?

Open Thread

28, May, 2008 @12:30 PM