Tuesday 5 March 2024

The Vulgar Use of Such Words as ‘Basket’

David Kynaston, Austerity Britain, 1945–51 (London: Bloomsbury, 2007), p. 386-87:

‘Programmes must at all cost be kept free of crudities, coarseness and innuendo,’ insisted the BBC Variety Programmes Policy Guide For Writers & Producers (generally known as ‘The Green Book’), a long-lived document assembled and taking force during the second half of 1948. ‘Humour must be clean and untainted directly or by association with vulgarity and suggestiveness. Music hall, stage, and to a lesser degree, screen standards, are not suitable to broadcasting . . . There can be no compromise with doubtful material. It must be cut.’ The following were the subject of ‘an absolute ban’:
Jokes about –
Effeminacy in men
Immorality of any kind
Suggestive references to –
Honeymoon couples
Fig leaves 
Ladies’ underwear, e.g. winter draws on
Animal habits, e.g. rabbits
Commercial travellers
Extreme care should be taken in dealing with references to or jokes about – 
Pre-natal influences (e.g. ‘His mother was frightened by a donkey’)
Marital infidelity
Good taste and decency are the obvious governing considerations.

The vulgar use of such words as ‘basket’ must also be avoided.

Religion, politics and physical infirmities were all heavily restricted areas, though ‘references to and jokes about drink are allowed in strict moderation so long as they can really be justified on entertainment grounds’. As for expletives, ‘they have no place at all in light entertainment and all such words as God, Good God, My God, Blast, Hell, Damn, Bloody, Gorblimey, Ruddy, etc, etc, should be deleted from scripts and innocuous expressions substituted’. Any jokes that might be taken to encourage strikes or industrial disputes were to be avoided, while ‘the Corporation’s policy is against broadcasting impersonations of elder Statesmen, e.g. Winston Churchill’.