Yorkshire becomes sex-free zone

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire and the North-east are set to be sex-free regions, at least as far as independent television is concerned.

Yesterday, Bruce Gyngell, head of Yorkshire/Tyne Tees TV who can claim to be British television's leading moralist, banned as too smutty a series on showbiz love-lives which is to be shown in every other ITV region next week. It is the latest in a series of bans by Mr Gyngell, the 67-year-old Australian who used to run TV-am and became a favourite of Margaret Thatcher after he took on the broadcasting unions in a gruelling strike in 1988.

Increasingly a spokesman against sex on television, Mr Gyngell last year blocked Margi Clarke's Good Sex Guide as well as late-night sex show Carnal Knowledge and the dating show God's Gift, which involved contestants showing their prowess at toe sucking.

Yesterday, it emerged he had refused to schedule the pounds 1m four-part series Hollywood Lovers, due to start next Wednesday. Instead he will be showing the Best of Whicker's World.

Last month, Mr Gyngell called for a ban on the film Crash, saying those in control of the entertainment industry had a duty to reinforce family values and stop perverted depictions of sex.

At the last conference of the Royal Television Society, he warned that British television was sinking into a "mire of sleaze". He pointed to the swear words in the last plays by Dennis Potter and said there should have been a public debate on their suitability before BBC and Channel 4 "rushed to indulge the delusions of a dying man".

Mr Gyngell's staff have not been slow to echo their boss. Next week Tyne Tees starts a new soap about Newcastle yuppies called Quayside. It will duck explicit sex.

The producers of Hollywood Lovers were less enamoured with the Gyngell creed. At September Films, which made the series, a spokeswoman said: "We hope he will change his mind - all the other ITV companies are absolutely happy with it. I think it is misguided to take it off air."