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Taste and Decency The Swizzlewick Story


In 1964, BBC1 launched a new twice weekly serial designed to be something different from the usual soap fare such as their own 'Compact', set in the posh offices of a ladies magazine. Set in a Midlands town (and made by the BBC's Birmingham studio in the days before Pebble Mill), 'Swizzlewick' was designed to be a prime time satirical swipe at local government with larger than life but recognisable characters with huge personality flaws, and hold up a mirror to our faces and see if we recognise ourselves... The serial was created by the talented playwright David Turner, given the writing opportunity of a lifetime and do something bold and original, but even early on, made some within the BBC very nervous.

However, 'Swizzlewick' upset the dignitaries from Town Halls up and down the country, and very quickly attracted the attention of the emerging Clean Up TV movement headed by one Mrs Mary Whitehouse, who quickly suspected she was being lampooned by the writer following a clash with Turner when she launched her campaign in Birmingham three months earlier where his controversial BBC play 'Trevor' was criticised.

Whitehouse was sent the script for an episode she declared 'indecent' to be shown at a time when children were still up, and just in time for her next rally. How the BBC reacted, and David Turner's explosive reaction are explored in this book, as well as the subsequent battle to keep the programme going. The book also investigates Whitehouse's claim that Turner was sending up the nervous collapse of her husband. Was the BBC using Turner to 'get' Whitehouse? Was she correct in that the series was indecent and tasteless? Was Mrs Smallgood and her Morality drive a 'calculated dig' at her campaign - or a stereotype she recognised she fitted...

'Taste and Decency The Swizzlewick Story' tells the story of how the serial was created, its production, launch and initial hostile reception by scandalised Town Hall dignitaries up and down the country. The book also details each of the 26 episodes transmitted, all bar one no longer survives.

224 pages
The cover and illustrations are by Rob Hammond.
Saturday Morning Press logos are designed by Jay Gent creative.