“Good taste is the first refuge of the non-creative. It is the last ditch stand of the artist”*…
Filmmaker Samantha Horley recently posted an image of this set of “Guidelines,” which she found among her father’s effects, on her Facebook page. Horley told me that her aunt worked at the BBC as a secretary in the 1960s and 1970s; she thinks the page originally came from her aunt’s papers.
The BBC’s press office told me, over email, that the page looks like it came from The BBC Variety Programmes Policy Guide For Writers and Producers, published in 1948. Although the BBC spokesperson couldn’t confirm this theory, I think this sheet was probably printed up for the amusement of employees in the more free-and-easy 1970s.The BBC reprinted the entire document as a book in the late 1990s; it’s now out of print, but here is a version in PDF. The longer document includes provisions that are less overtly amusing than this section but are interesting nonetheless, offering guidelines on libel and slander, religious and political references, and jokes about physical and mental disability.
Under the heading “American Material and ‘Americanisms,'” the anonymous authors of the handbook observed that “American idiom and slang” were often found in scripts and that “dance band singers for the most part elect to adopt pseudo American accents.” This “spurious Americanisation” should be avoided, the handbook urged, since it was “unwelcome to the great majority of listeners and … seldom complimentary to the Americans.”
* Marshall McLuhan
As we mind our P’s and Q’s, we might recall that it was on this date in 1782 that Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, escaped from prison… only to be quickly apprehended. The French aristocrat, revolutionary politician, philosopher, author, and libertine spent much of his adult life behind bars. In 1778, de Sade had been imprisoned by order of the king: ostensibly his offense was licentious behavior; but historians note that his mother-in-law, at whose urging the king acted, believed that the young Marquis was spending her daughter’s money too quickly. (There were also accusations of an affair with his wife’s sister… and it may have further motivated the mother-in-law that her daughter was rumored to be complicit in de Sade’s sexual escapades.) In any case, it was in the Bastille that he battled boredom by writing– among other things, The 120 Days of Sodom.
He was freed from prison in 1790, and ingratiated himself with the new Republic (calling himself “Citizen Sade”). de Sade began writing again, anonymously publishing works including Justine and Juliette… until, in 1801, Napoleon ordered his arrest (again for indecency and blasphemy). de Sade spent two years in prison, until his family had him declared insane, and moved him to the asylum at Charenton (the scene of Peter Weiss’s remarkable play Marat/Sade), where he died in 1814.