The conservative campaigner Mary Whitehouse (1910-2001) was well-known as a scourge of the permissive society, homophobe, anti-abortionist, high Christian moralist and would-be censor. In her capacity as founder and president of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (NVALA), she regularly attacked the BBC in particular, and considered practically all sexualised imagery to be corrosive and evil, as well as campaigning against blasphemy. Less well-known is her own support for the work of Geoffrey Dickens MP in his anti-paedophile campaigns, and also for her friend, fellow Christian moralist Charles Oxley, a headmaster who infiltrated the Paedophile Information Exchange in order to gain information to assist prosecutions and membership lists. I will blog further about Oxley’s works at a later time.
However, in the course of looking through several of Whitehouse’s books to find out how much she knew on this, I found one passage which is grimly ironic in light of what is now known. This, from Mary Whitehouse, Quite Contrary: An Autobiography (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1993), pp. 88-89. She discusses the various programmes or broadcasters who won NVALA’s annual award. Of all things to single out, she chooses Jim’ll Fix It, which won the award in 1977. Whitehouse speaks fondly about the ‘moving’ stories told by the production team, ‘like the one about the girl Jimmy said he was going to marry and they got engaged with a huge cuddly toy just a few days before she died’ (extraordinarily sinister in light not just of knowledge of Savile’s abuse of children, but also his fascination with dead bodies). She also says ‘I don’t know anything about Jimmy’s lifestyle and, in any case, it’s no business of mine’.
Clearly Whitehouse’s anti-paedophile campaigns had no effect upon her judgement here.