Home Television Comedy Not So Much A Programme, More A Way Of Life

Not So Much A Programme, More A Way Of Life

1 9 6 4 – 1 9 6 5 (UK)

This short-lived topical satire sketch show was developed as a replacement for That Was The Week That Waswhich was taken off the air in advance of the 1964 general election.

Produced by Ned Sherrin, the show featured David Frost, William Rushton, John Bird, Michael Crawford, Eleanor Bron and Roy Hudd and ran three times a week on BBC1 – on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Basically a collection of interviews and satirical sketches on topical subjects, the show goes down in television history for the first use of a four-letter-word on British television.

On 12 November 1965, in a discussion about stage censorship, Robert Robinson asked Kenneth Tynan whether he would allow sexual intercourse to be staged at the National Theatre, where he was then literary manager.

Tynan replied: “Certainly. I think there are very few rational people in this world to whom the word ‘fuck’ is particularly diabolical or revolting or totally forbidden. I think that anything that can be printed or said can also be seen”.

Predictably, although it was placed in a reasonable context and not uttered as a common expletive, Tynan’s use of the word offended many and raised a paper hurricane of protest.

There had been public outrage earlier in 1965 – mostly from Roman Catholics – when the show broadcast a sketch on birth control.

Eleanor Bron created some memorable characters, including American folksinger, Anna, over in Europe looking for social injustice with her guitar, and twittering Lady Pamela Strippy, indefatigable charity organiser and Conservative name-dropper.

Equally aggressive in its sardonic treatment of politics and current affairs, Not So Much A Programme, in turn, gave way to a successor series, BBC3in 1965.

David Frost
William Rushton
John Bird
Michael Crawford
Eleanor Bron
Roy Hudd
P J Kavanagh