When I was what is now fashionably termed a 'young adolescent', my parents decided that I was not watching enough television. In fact I was watching none. I am not ashamed to admit that the reason for this was a mixture of suspicion and snobbery. Popular culture in the 1970s and 1980s was characterised by men with long hair shouting, while women in dungarees prevailed upon young viewers to follow them through a series of square, circular and triangular windows. One's recent invocation of 'Bagpuss' in a speech to the House was wrongly assumed to be a tribute to the fluffy old cloth cat. In fact one was always far happier reading Horace than 'catching up' with the antics of that soporific feline and a soundtrack that consisted of 'folk music' being played on a 'banjo'. Worse. Even then, one could not escape the feeling that there was a hidden agenda at work. That somehow beneath the japery of Brian Cant and the tom-foolery of 'finger mouse', young minds were being indoctrinated, rewired, 'socialised'.
As long as pictures have moved there have been forces at work wishing to manipulate them. You are no doubt familiar with the history of early Soviet Propaganda in the 1920s and 1930s. The Romanoff family, who had for centuries selflessly served the interests of the Russian peasantry, were portrayed in a series of films as nepotistic despots, concerned solely with their own preservation, while their people starved and wept. Rot of course, but effective rot - and as was the case in one of our bathrooms last year, the rot spread.
By the 1950's the charismatic American Senator 'Joe' McCarthy had cottoned on to the fact that Hollywood itself was stuffed full of Communist sympathisers and Soviet Fifth Columnists. In a series of spectacular interventions he proved beyond any reasonable doubt that, among others, Charlie Chaplin, Edward G Robinson, Marilyn Monroe, 'Zero' Mostel and even Daffy Duck were part of a deeply entrenched Marxist conspiracy intent on corrupting the minds of American youth and the wider world with their 'socialist ideals'. Sadly, pressure by influential 'stars' ended the trials before they could finish what they had begun and many of the lesser known 'artists' (mostly writers) managed to slip through the fingers of the FBI. The grim determination of the 'Red' is well documented and I am sorry to say that many of them made their way to Britain.
From around 1950 these writers in exile, many operating under assumed names, found work in our nascent television industry. Perhaps the best known example was the shameful series The Adventures of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, which was written by a number of blacklisted writers. In this 'entertainment' Robin is seen not as a foul villain of history, which he undoubtedly was, thieving from hard working burghers and embattled local politicians, but as a sort of hero, 'redistributing' wealth to the work-shy poor. Although originally aired on what is now called 'ITV' it’s terrible influence spread, as those responsible for its creation hired like-minded 'creatives' and instilled a 'leftist' agenda in British 'TV' that continues to this day.
As ever, the main target of this propagandist filth was youth. By the 1970s one could hardly tune in to 'Watch with Mother' without being assaulted by a cavalcade of populist Marxist causes. The Wombles were a clear and obvious attempt to inculcate young viewers with 'green' ideals. Illegal immigration was brazenly glamorised and sanitised in the tale of 'Paddington' a stowaway purporting to be from Peru (his documents are conveniently ‘lost’) who arrives in West London and is hidden from the authorities by a family of well-meaning liberals called 'The Browns'. One can hardly bring oneself to mention the odious 'hippy' values of The Magic Roundabout or the innuendo filled 'design for living' as proposed 'a trois' by the presenters of 'Blue' Peter. Later televisual insights on working class children provided by first Grange Hill and later 'Byker' Grove convinced one of two things. The need for more affordable 'private' education and the true extent of socialist 'infiltration' within the medium.
Suffice to say, the liberal indoctrination of young minds by children's television and particularly the BBC continues to this day. The bias displayed in the average edition of 'Newsround' as ‘leftist’ disguised as 'good’ causes are promoted, is enough to drive one to burn one's license. It continues to astonish me that the superb 'Fox News' Channel, routinely comes in for a bashing from the left, whilst this brazen ‘socialism’ slips by. One has no doubt in one’s mind that last year’s riots were at least in part caused by befuddled minds, enraged by a babyhood spent parked in front of the ‘Teletubbies’.
What can be done? The answer is very simple. Monitor what your children are viewing. Encourage them to question the veracity of their news sources from a very early age. And under no circumstances read them those dreadful 'Gruffalo' books. Give them Horace instead.
My warmest regards to each one of you.