Helen Bach: Sexism was alright in the 1970s

It seems sexism was alright in the 1970s, says Helen

It seems sexism was alright in the 1970s, says Helen

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What TV programmes do you remember from the 1970s?

For me it’s kids’ shows like Playschool, Bagpuss, Mr Benn and Trumpton.

So the recent Channel Four programme It Was Alright in the 1970s was an eye-opener to say the least!

Of course, the title turned out to be ironic, because nothing about the programmes they showed was in the least bit alright.

Some will perhaps say that it’s unfair to judge the past through our 21st century eyes, but I think this programme served as a reminder of how far we’ve come and how dark some of the TV shows were in the decade that taste forgot.

It made uncomfortable watching – a bit like the ‘talking heads’ who were there to give their views having watched the same clips, I sat with jaw dropped at times, physically cringing at others.

Times have certainly changed – and what a relief they have. The casual racism and sexism, which then passed for entertainment, was quite shocking. And knowing what we know now about what certain celebs were doing, it made it all the more uncomfortable to watch.

We weren’t allowed to watch Benny Hill in our house, and having seen some of his work on this show I feel I haven’t missed much.

But some of the sexism was far more subtle – they showed Ted Rogers on 321 patronising a blonde-haired Danish assistant and making out she was stupid because her English wasn’t perfect.

I wonder how good his Danish was?

Don’t even get me started on the Black and White Minstrels – what on earth were TV producers thinking when they commissioned that show?

In one scene shown they managed to offend black people, women and Scottish kilt-wearing men simultaneously.

It will be interesting to see how programmes we currently watch and think are acceptable stand the test of time.

In another 40 years will people watch clips of ‘I’m a Celebrity...’ and say ‘they made them eat what?!’ and ‘who is that?’ – but in fairness, they’re questions I’m asking myself now!

Read more from Helen here.