Swannsong

LONDON: The new chairman of the BBC’s board of governors is on record as being anti-permissive and anti-gay.

Sir Michael Swann has told the press that he intends to be neither “too permissive nor too authoritarian” in his new position of power of what is broadcast by the Beeb.

But in his past as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University, Sir Michael has shown what he means by not being “too permissive”.

In April 1972 he wrote to the chairman of the board of directors of Scottish International – a monthly arts and political commentary magazine supported by the Scottish Arts Council — to complain that the magazine had run a story about the warden of a students hostel who’d been sacked for being gay.

More recently, since being knighted in the Birthday Honours List, Sir Michael has been none too helpful to the Scottish Minorities’ Groups’ planned teach-in, to be held in March in Edinburgh.

He became incensed and wrote letters complaining about the “abusive letters” he’d received after the Glasgow Herald reported that the teach-in on homosexuality was to take place.

He was quick to point out that the teach-in, which is being organised by a university professor and students from the university was not an official university function. And to reinforce this he has taken steps to make sure that no university funds are spent on the teach-in by telling university committees that they may not regard the teach-in as official.

Therefore it does not exist as far as Sir Michael is concerned.

How They Castrated Monty P.

LONDON: Sources at the BBC say that censorship at the Corporation is reaching insane proportions. They are either worried about the renewal of their Charter in 1976 — or there is interference, from some person or persons nominally designated as “Someone Higher-Up”.

Apart from the Wilde sketch from a programme of series three of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, other things to be censored include part of a song in which a character sings: “I’m getting pissed tonight”, whereas, in the same episode the words ‘piss off’ were allowed to be broadcast. It seems that you’re strictly limited to the number of ‘pisses’ in one show.

A competition in which contestants were given 12 seconds to summarise all the volumes of A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu, one contestant claimed that his own hobbies were golf, strangling animals and masturbation, after which the MC remarked he must have let himself down a bit on the hobbies there – “golf isn’t very popular round here”. This, too, was banned. Apparently you are not allowed to say the word ‘masturbation’ on comedy shows, although it would be permissible on the news, in ‘serious drama’, or documentary.

A rather childish and commendably ‘silly’ sketch in which a wine taster was being asked to give his expert opinion on various vintages of ‘wee-wee’ was hacked out of the show completely on the grounds that the second wine appeared to be rosé. (The BBC bosses, knowing very little about ‘medical matters’ assumed, without any reason, that this was intended to be ‘menstrual urine’!)

A thought that never occurred to the writer or the cast and in all probability would never have occurred to the general public!

Their only logical complaint could have been that the so-called rosé came from someone suffering from a disease of the urinary tract or who’d been eating a lot of beetroot. Menstrual Urine! Who’s getting paranoiac.

Any further example of this kind of censorship will, of course, be passed on to this important newspaper. The above article has absolutely nothing to do with Graham Chapman, who wishes to remain anonymous.

No Ding-a-Ling For Mary

LONDON: The BBC has broken with tradition by ignoring a call from Mrs Mary Whitehouse who wants Chuck Berry’s hit record My Ding-a-Ling banned from radio and television.

When the BBC went on playing the record on Radio-1 and television’s Top of the Pops, Mrs Whitehouse packed her bags and set off to Washington to start cleaning up television in the USA.

Despite Mrs Whitehouse’s letters of protest to the BBC and Sir John Eden, the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, the BBC went on playing Chuck’s record and a spokesman said: “We’ve still had no complaints.”

Mary Whitehouse wants the record banned because, she says, it is meant to encourage masturbation.

Phonogram, the record company that releases the Chuck Berry record in this country, described Mrs Whitehouse’s criticisms as “ridiculous” and added that there was a longer version of the song on Chuck’s LP which had been available since July.

The company said a cinema manager in the North of England had phoned to say how popular the record was at his Saturday morning childrens’ matinees. The children sang along with it and even made their own ding-a-lings.

To the children a ding-a-ling is a piece of string with a bell on the end. Only Mary Whitehouse had thought it had anything to do with masturbation.

And the BBC went on playing the record on Radio-1. When it came to Top of the Pops they played the record, but showed no film of Chuck performing. Instead there were a series of stills of Chuck Berry, drawings, and a dance by Pan’s People, the show’s resident gymnasts.

Within days Mrs Whitehouse, who is secretary of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association – which she formed herself – was off to take on the job of cleaning up the USA at the request of President Nixon’s adviser on pornography, Mr Charles Keeting.

As she left Heathrow Ariport, London, Mrs Whitehouse, who was clutching a copy of the report on pornography by Lord Longford’s self-appointed committee on the subject said: “We are hoping to co-operate with an American society with the same aims as our own to try to reach a better understanding of the way violence and sexual permissiveness can be reduced in broadcasting.”

Mrs Whitehouse will make a coast-to-coast tour of the United States looking for dirty meanings in television and radio shows.

Wilde Times At The BBC

The following script for the Wilde sketch, stolen from Graham Chapman, with his permission, is one whole sketch and a bit censored from programme 12 of the current series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. See also the news story on How They Castrated Monty P.

The script is presented in its original form, as duplicated by the Light Entertainment Group of BBC TV, but we have reset it word for word with its original layout, so that it’s possible to read – the BBC seems a bit mean with duplicating ink.

SUPER CAPTION. LONDON 1895

SUPER CAPTION. THE RESIDENCE OF MR OSCAR WILDE.

SUITABLE CLASSY MUSIC STARTS.

(MIX THROUGH TO WILDE’S DRAWING ROOM. (STUDIO) A CROWD OF SUITABLY DRESSED FOLK ARE ENGAGED IN TYPICALLY BRILLIANT CONVERSATION LAUGHING EFFETELY AND DRINKING CHAMPAGNE (REAL CHAMPAGNE)

PRINCE OF WALES
My congratulations Wilde. Your play is a great success. The whole of London is talking about you.

WILDE
There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about.

(THERE FOLLOWS FIFTEEN SECONDS OF RESTRAINED AND SYCOPHANTIC LAUGHTER).

PRINCE OF WALES
Very witty. Very very witty.

WHISTLER
There is only one thing in the world worse than being witty and that is not being witty.

(FIFTEEN MORE SECONDS OF THE SAME)

WILDE
I wish I had said that.

WHISTLER
You did Oscar you did.

(MORE LAUGHTER)

WILDE
Your Highness do you know James McNeill Whistler?

PRINCE OF WALES
Yes we play squash together.

WILDE
There is only one thing worse than playing squash together and that is playing it by yourself (PAUSE) I wish I hadn’t said that.

WHISTLER
You did Oscar you did.

(A LITTLE LAUGHTER)

WILDE
More champagne Shaw.

SHAW
If you please.

PRINCE OF WALES
I thought you were a tee totaller Shaw.

SHAW
I am a beer tee-totaller your majesty not a champagne tee-totaller.

(LAUGHTER)

WILDE
Dear Bernard. He hasn’t an enemy in the world and none of his friends like him.

(LAUGHTER)

WILDE
I’m working well tonight.

PRINCE OF WALES
You must forgive me Wilde but I must get back up the palace.

WILDE
Your majesty you are like a big jam doughnut with cream on top.

PRINCE OF WALES
I beg your pardon?

WILDE
(AT A LOSS) Er… er… er … er… er… it was one of Whistlers.

WHISTLER
I didn’t say that!

WILDE
You did James, you did.

(P.O. WALES STARES EXPECTANTLY AT WHISTLER)

WHISTLER
It meant that like a doughnut your arrival gives us pleasure and your departure makes us hungry for more.

(LAUGHTER)

WILDE
Right! Your majesty is like a stream of bat’s piss.

P.O.W.
I beg your pardon!

WILDE
It was one of Whistlers.

WHISTLER
It sodding was not.

SHAW
He merely meant your majesty that you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark.

(RIPPLE OF AWED APPRECIATION)

WILDE/WHIST.
RIGHT!

WILDE
Your majesty is like a dose of clap.

WHISTLER
Before you arrive is pleasure but after a pain in the dong.

P.O.W.
What!!!

WILDE/WHIST.
It was one of Shaw’s.

SHAW
Right you bastards… I meant er… er… er…

WILDE
We’ve got him Jim.

SHAW
Er… er… er… I meant… er…

WILDE/WHIST
We’ve got him … we’ve got him. Come on Shorey … come on Shorey.

SHAW
(BLOWS HELPLESS RASPBERRY)

(MURMURS OF APPRECIATIVE APPLAUSE)

ALL
Excellent, excellent!

(TO BE ENDED BY ANIMATION WHICH TAKES US INTO…)

Yuletide Arts

Watch it ‘Time Out’, or the Culture Vulture’s Guide to Christmas

Far and away the most interesting theatre happenings this Christmas are taking place at The Place (Duke’s Road, close to Euston Station). Let me try to dispel the myth at once. All that goes on there is not for the devoted few, nor is it the obscure, didactic and deliberately esoteric stuff that the opponents of modern dance would have us believe. Sure, it’s nothing like what’s going on at the Garden. (And I say that with a huge sigh of relief!), but a good deal of it is clearer, more honest and certainly less cluttered. If you’ve never been to The Place, I can recommend it from many angles, besides the originality of its production. The price is right to start – tickets are usually 60p and 90p. The atmosphere is very relaxed and unpretentious. Definitely no dressing up! But despite all this, the audience is well mixed. The Place may have the informality of a club, but there’s no feeling of everyone having to wear the modern equivalent of the ‘old school tie’.

From December 18 until January 6 the resident London Contemporary Dance Theatre present a number of new works and the first London performance of a new piece by Robert North, one of the Company’s lead dancers, entitled ‘Brian’.

‘Dance Energies’, a new work by May O’Donnell recieves its world premiere on the opening night of the season. Also in the programme is Richard Alston’s ‘Tiger Balm’, remarkable not only for Robert North’s stunningly sinewy (and full frontal nude) performance as the tiger (no gasps in this audience) but also for the sometimes elegiac, sometimes anarchic choreography, which sticks irrevocably in the mind. The programme is completed by Robert Cohan’s ‘People Alone’. Here we encounter members of the Company in a series of solos, in which each expresses his or her own private misery, linked by comments from an updated version of the Greek chorus (they don’t sing of course, and wear what looks like satin jumpsuits, but don’t let that put you off, they’re great!)

Cohan (who is also director of the Company) was seriously ill earlier in the year. The original premiere was postponed several times, since he was not able to devote the time to it that he had anticipated. In fact, I understand that the work is still evolving. But when I saw it for the first time back in the summer, I was bowled over, so I am anxious to see how it has developed in the last few months.

Another highlight of the season is the British premiere of a work by American choreographer, Lotte Goslar, who is known for the clever use of circus elements in her shows. It’s entitled (temporarily) ‘Goslar Piece’.

At the London Coliseum, Sadler’s Wells Opera has gone ‘light’ on us. Over the Christmas period there will be just two productions on show – ‘The Merry Widow’ and ‘Die Fledermaus’.

Dec.
21 Merry Widow
22 Die Fledermaus
Theatre closed until
27 Merry Widow
28 Die Fledermaus
29 Merry Widow
30 Merry Widow
Jan
1 Merry Widow
2 Die Fledermaus

At the Royal Opera House, things are somewhat more varied (there’s always the incredible ugly sisters of Messrs Ashton and Helpmann in ‘Cinderella’ to give things a fun lift off, even if nothing else quite matches them).

Dec
21 Cosi fan tutte
22 Afternoon of a Faun/Giselle
23 Matinee – Cinderella
Evening – Cosi fan tutte
Theatre closed until
26 Cinderella (matinee & evening)
27 Cosi fan tutte
28 Rigoletto
29 Cosi fan tutte
30 Matinee – Swan Lake
Evening — Cinderella
Jan 1 Nabucco
2 Rigoletto

On January 3, Covent Garden sends off that ‘Fanfare for Europe’ with an extravaganza, that every megalomanic opera director dreams about. Think of a name, and the betting’s that he or she will be there dear departed excepted of course. (But come to think of it, they will have to have a trump card somewhere!) Described as ‘A Celebration in Words and Music’, in the honoured presence of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, the artists taking part include such diverse personalities as Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Janet Baker, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Regine Crespin, Tito Gobbi, Alberto Remedios, and Peter Pears. There will be the Trumpeters of the Royal Military School of Music (obligatory if there is to be an authentic fanfare I suppose) and even the not always so angelic Wandsworth School Boys Choir (Director Russell Burgess) will be represented. The whole programme is devised by Patrick Garland (just back from his Broadway production of ‘Hedda Gabler’) and John Copley. The designer is Carl Toms, the conductor Colin Davis.

Just in case you are tempted (and the price of the tickets should quickly destroy any inkling of that – stalls at £10) let me quote from the booking leaflet – Evening Dress and Decorations. Now let your imaginations run riot!

The National Theatre at the Old Vic has but one offering for Christmas. From December 26 to January 2 (the theatre is closed from mid-December until Christmas) they will be presenting the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur ‘whiplash comedy’ (!?) about the raucous goings-on of tabloid journalism in the twenties. Astonishingly, the play has never been performed here before, although it has been filmed twice. The Observer said ‘Don’t miss it’ and somehow I’ve managed to do just that. Maybe this will be my golden opportunity, considering the frugal diet otherwise available. Perhaps some kind soul will even join me! (Don’t all rush, but offers please to Box 999). No we don’t get review tickets for the National Theatre, or any other theatre, more’s the pity. We do it all for love!

Before the Festival Ballet’s inevitable performances of Tchaikovsky’s ‘nutcracker’ (the title’s enough to send any self-respecting American into guffaws of laughter) take over at the Royal Festival Hall, there are still a few choice orchestral concerts to keep the music fiend happy.

On December 14, Ivan Kertesz returns to the orchestra of which for a short time he was Principal Conductor – The London Symphony. The programme consists of Mozart’s Six German Dances, his Serenata Notturna (K239) and Brahms’ Liebesliederwalzer. He is joined by Lucia Popp (currently singing Gilda in the Royal Opera’s ‘Rigolletto’) for excerpts from Strauss’ ‘Gypsy Baron’ and ‘Die Fledermaus’. I suppose we have to celebrate in the appropriately jolly style!

At the Queen Elizabeth Hall on December 15 Janet Baker teams up with Raymond Leppard and the English Chamber Orchestra for an evening of early Italian and English music — Albinoni, Cavalli, Monteverdi, Dowland and Handel.

Alfred Brendel gives a piano recital at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 17 December starting at 3.15. He plays music by Schubert and Beethoven.

The London Symphony under Andre Previn (their present conductor) performs Brahms’ ‘German Requiem’ on Tuesday December 19. The soloists are Sheila Armstrong and John Shirley-Quirk, supported by the LSO Chorus. Stephen Bishop plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C (K 467) in the first half of the programme.

The last strictly live musical event before the Festival Ballet and opera films vanquish the South Bank takes place on December 20, when Andrew Davis (gladly not a relation of Colin) conducts the English Chamber Orchestra in a performance of Berlioz’ ‘L’Enfance du Christ’. John Shirley-Quirk is again one of the soloists, this time joined by Peter Pears, Patricia Kern, and Thomas Allen. They’re in the QEH while that monstrous proscenium arch is erected next door.

Meanwhile over at the Royal Albert Hall, the BBC is sponsoring the first ever series of Winter Proms, beginning on December 29 — eleven concerts.ten conductors and eight orchestras.

Horror Wave Sweeps Earls Court

Picture has been edited as the age of the subject is not clear.Look out. Here it comes. It’s the biggest Gay News the world has ever seen. The next Gay News is a monster. It’s the only issue next month, so we’re making it special. The Great Christmas Issue Conspiracy has been uncovered. Reports reaching here suggest the paper published on December 13 will be so packed with goodies you won’t be able to put it down for a month.

It stars Peter Straker (in a Gay News exclusive interview), Robin Maugham (a story that’s never been published outside Gay News) and Judy Garland (an exclusive look through the tinsel at the lady behind the legend). Plus news, reviews, games, fun and entertainment guides.

Special guest star: the entire script of the gay sketch the BBC banned from its top rating comedy show. Know what we mean?

With a goodie like that coming your way you owe it to yourself to order your Christmas Gay News from your newsagent or by sending a cheque or PO (made payable to Gay News Ltd) to Santa, Room 1, Gay News, 19 London Street, London W2 1HL.


Give A Friend Some Fun For Christmas

Don’t be alone in enjoying the monster Christmas Gay News. Give a friend a little pleasure from December.

No matter w your friend lives we’ll help you, and we’ll go on helping you give that friend a little pleasure every fortnight next year.

Pleasure means Gay News. Christmas means presents. Give your friend a subscription to Gay News for Christmas.

Remember make it special and start the subscription with the monster Christmas Gay News.

I enclose £1.20 for 10 issues/£2.30 for 20 issues. Start with issue …………….

(Copies are posted in a sealed envelope). Please make cheques/postal orders payable to Gay news Subscriptions, and send to 19 London Street, London W2 1HL. Tel: 01-402 7805

BBC Opens Doors

LONDON: The BBC is to start a series of programmes open to minority groups, which means that gays should be able to get 40 minutes of air-time free to get their views across to the public.

The idea of the programme, provisionally called Open Door, is that any group that wants to put its opinions across can go along to a house in Hammersmith Grove and ask to be given space in the programme.

Producer Rowan Ayers, who used to run Line-Up, will arrange for ten minutes of film to be shot for the programme. The groups who take the opportunity of using television will have to pay no fee for the time, and they will be paid no fee for appearing on television.

The BBC says there will be no more censorship on the programmes. Whilst the Open Door series will not be open to individuals – only to groups – it will be screening the opinions of any group representing the opinions of anyone from GLF to Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford.

Rowan Ayers said: “I will try to ensure that a balance is kept over the 50 week series, and every four weeks we will give other groups and individuals the right of reply to the three previous programmes. The only bars are against advocating the breaking of a law or appealing for money.”

Speak-not-so-Easy. Or how Jimmy Saville almost went Gay

01-197205XX 2We knew the programme was going to be about homosexuals again, but, like everyone else except Michael Butler of the Samaritans, who was, it seems, doing the inviting, we didn’t know when or where. I rang Rev. Roy Trevivian’s secretary, who made apologetic noises about the smallness of the room, and the ‘specially invited audience’, so I politely solicited such an invitation for four of us from the paper. She promised to check with the producer himself to are if there was room, and to phone us back the following day. Neither she nor anyone else at the B.B.C. had the courtesy to bother. The day after that I phoned again, only to get the same blurb from the same girl, but this time she added that they’d made up their audience list yesterday and we’d been left out as we weren’t really suitable, and she was terribly sorry. At no time was Roy Trevivian available in person, so we were told. They had come across us “in our researches”. So much for Gay News.

The next stage in the saga took place whilst we were having a collective meeting, and it came to light that one of the C.H.E. members of the collective had been invited to be part of that audience. He had first been telephoned and asked to keep Thursday evening free for “something rather secret”. Later that same week he had been phoned again and told it was another edition of Speakeasy on Homosexuality. Someone else had told him where and when it was to be recorded, but he was “officially” told, by phone, whilst we were sitting in our meeting on the very day it was to be recorded! It was becoming clear that only nice, safe, respectable homosexuals who would conform to the B.B.C.’s idea of the programme and of Gayness were going to get in. As to who decided the criteria for this we weren’t, and still aren’t, quite sure, but since the invitations we knew of had come from Rev. Michael Butler and all his angels, and since it also seemed that both he and the B.B.C. had assumed Gay News was a synonym for Gay Lib., he was the obvious man to contact.

The reasons for all the secrecy and exclusion about a programme supposedly concerned with free speech and letting the unedited words of ‘ordinary people’ out over the air waves was then made clear. I was told that every effort was being made to exclude GLF because the B.B.C. did not want them there, and had threatened to scrap the show if they did get on. I was told that GLF had “ruined” the last edition of Speakeasy on this subject, (all this meant was that one GLF member actually took 5 minutes to finish what he was saying, which the producer didn’t like anyway) forcing the B.B.C. to re-record part of the programme in order to cut out what they had said (!) and that in any case another organisation would be “represented in a roundabout way”. When asked if I was in GLF I replied that I was, but that I wished to be present on the programme as Gay News. The reply was to the effect that what was really wanted was people as people, not as organisations, (though on the programme itself it was clear that everyone there was from some organisation, and, like me, determined to plug it. That’s all very well. but without GLF or Gay News it would have been a depressingly one-sided picture). But Michael Butler did at last relent, bless his heart, and said it was O.K., I could come along, he was sorry to be so cagey about it, and I could bring one other person if I could “guarantee them”, whatever that meant. So the three of us who went from Gay News were placed in the unfortunate position of trying to make the distinction between GLF and Gay News clear, whilst all being members of both. Though GLF did come to know of when and when it was, no-one could be bothered to come although several apparently promised to, largely because no-one at the B.B.C. bothered to correct their impression that it was being recorded, as it usually is, on Friday, when it was,i n fact, done on Thursday.

So, who an we to believe in this welter of secrecy and intrigue from the public broadcasting body and its ‘friends’? Roy Trevivian, along with his secretary, his researcher, and Jimmy Saville, who all, when asked, spread their thin little story about limited space (and why not in the Paris Studio on Friday? Oh, because Jimmy’s going away on Friday. So why not do it another week?) and invited audience amongst whom there was ample space for twenty more at least; or are we to believe the man they seem to have put in charge of the inviting? The whole setup was an open invitation to GLF to disrupt, and they would have been more than justified in doing so. And who told them Gay News was GLF? Why didn’t they bother to do their research properly? Who else did they miss out, and why?

It seemed very ironic to be asked in the course of the programme if we felt that gay people got a fair deal from the media. The point is that we very largely get no deal whatsoever, unless it is either patronising, derogatory, or just plain ignorant, and this bunch, apart from taking comfort from the unctuous phrases of the Albany Trust and the Samaritans, went all three. Their hypocrisy as regards their public image of the programme is self evident. Like most other broadcasts, the people they invite are not there to show how they feel to the general public, and thus present the truth, but to conform to what the producer wants them to look and sound like so as to enhance what he is going to say. Why else is almost everything on radio or television pre-recorded – to render it safe. So why do they wish to exclude the most open and vocal sections of the gay community from the media, when they open to the gay community at all? Because they are not going to be manipulated, as gay people always are, to suit somebody else’s concept of us, and thus be party to even the most liberal and well-meaning lie, such as Speakeasy is.

Your nearest Bottle of Librium

01-197205XX 2The B.B.C.’s Religious Broadcasts Department are proud of their forum-cum-chat show, “Speakeasy” broadcast on Radio 1 on Sunday afternoons. They make pretty sure their audience knows it too, making a point of announcing that Speakeasy is the only show of its kind in the world, where the ordinary-man-in-the-street can come in and voice his opinions on any topic which happens to be discussed at the time. Jimmy Saville, who chairs the show, encourages the assembled audience to speak our and participate (via the roving microphones), since the show is (to paraphrase both the producer, Roy Trevivian, and Jimmy Saville in the warm-up period) 80% yours, to do as you like – the panel of experts here are purely for technical guidance and know-how.

Needless to say, after all this is said, the audience, sometimes gets a word in edgeways.

On the Friday that “Speakeasy” recorded a discussion on sports and subsidies, Jimmy Saville closed the show by saying something that provoked a stifled, embarrassed laughter – if you had heard it, it would have sent you grasping for your nearest bottle of librium. He told the audience that, unfortunately, they wouldn’t hold the next show at its usual home, the Paris studio, not because it was going on the road, but because they were dealing with a rather controversial and sensitive subject, to which you probably wouldn’t come anyway – that of homosexuality. Thus contradicting their own publicity blurb about Free Speech and Man in the Street. It obviously stirred a lot of interest amongst the Gay Brothers who either happened to be there, or heard of it through the grapevine.

Subsequently our gay friends made furtive enquiries to Rev. Roy Trevivian the producer and in each case reached his secretary, who then, in turn, handed the phone to the researcher, Pat Honey.

When asked why Gay Liberation or Gay News hadn’t been invited to send representatives, and where the programme was being recorded, and why it was being done secretly, without being open to interested parties, she gave a reply to the effect that: The programme was being held in a small room before an already selected audience, which couldn’t be enlarged upon “for obvious reasons”.
No further questions or comments were put to Miss Honey, and she volunteered no information herself, except that the might ring up Gay News to see what they have to say.

(G.L.F. source) 18/5/72