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TV & Radio

I'm with Mary Whitehouse, says Joan Bakewell

After decades of battling against her views, Dame Joan Bakewell conceded today that clean-up campaigner Mary Whitehouse may have been right all along.

In a remarkable U-turn, liberal broadcaster Dame Joan has suggested the results of sexual liberation in the 1960s may not have had a positive effect for a later generation.

Writing in Radio Times published today, she said sexual freedom had been corrupted by money.

Mrs Whitehouse found nationwide notoriety when she took a stand against what she saw as slipping standards on TV in the 1960s, as instances of sex and bad language rose. She founded the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association to campaign against the "rising tide of filth".

But Dame Joan, 77, was famously among those who opposed the group, hosting a liberal BBC chat show Late Night Line-Up.

The presenter, dubbed the "thinking man's crumpet" hosted a TV series on censorship called Taboo which involved her visiting the set of a porn film.

However, writing today, she said: "The liberal mood back in the '60s was that sex was pleasurable and wholesome and shouldn't be seen as dirty and wicked.

"The Pill allowed women to make choices for themselves. Of course, that meant the risk of making the wrong choice. But we all hoped girls would grow to handle the new freedoms wisely.

"Then everything came to be about money - so now sex is about money, too. Why else sexualise the clothes of little girls, run TV channels of naked wives, have sex magazines edging out the serious stuff on newsagents' shelves?

"It's money that's corrupted us and women are being used and are even collaborating. I never thought I would hear myself say as much, but I'm with Mrs Whitehouse on this one."

Dame Joan presents an Archive On 4 programme for Radio 4 on Saturday looking at the effect of Mrs Whitehouse's campaign.