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Mary Whitehouse’s Table

Last night’s Antiques Roadshow on BBC 1 had a curious collection: an old kitchen table used by Mary Whitehouse for her “Clean Up TV” campaign, along with some of her paperwork and a portrait by John Bratby. The items were brought to Layer Marney Tower, near Colchester, by her son Richard Whitehouse, who recalled how the table would be “strewn with papers”. He also discussed, in a dryly jocular manner, the difficulties faced by him and his siblings:

We certainly felt sidelined and secondary to the campaign. It was rather unfortunate that she started the campaign when we were young teens… Yes, you know, “No sex and violence”, when that’s the only thing we were really interested in… She used to watch a lot of porn and violence, and I began to wonder.

Mary Whitehouse’s granddaughter was also on the show, and gave her own assessment:

I don’t particularly believe in what she stood for, I don’t really agree with the campaign particularly. I just think she’s a remarkable woman because she stood up for what she believed in, really, which is quite amazing.

The AR expert, Paul Atterbury, declined to put a price on the table and paperwork beyond it being “a valuable social archive”, although he valued the Bratby painting – which Richard Whitehouse keeps “behind the door” – to probably more than £5,000, “because she’s quite an important subject”.

Richard Whitehouse has spoken about his mother previously – in 2008 he gave an interview to the Daily Telegraph.

The programme was broadcast from 8pm to 9pm – viewers could then switch over to Channel 4, where there was a satirical drama in which the Prime Minister of the UK is obliged to have sex with a pig on live television in order to save the life of a kidnapped princess.

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