Language That May Offend

I switched the TV in my care home room over from Radio 3 just now to an old B/W film, and the continuity announcer has informed viewers that the film contains language that may offend.

Why on earth do they do this? Are there maiden aunts (or uncles, if such people exist) around the UK watching the TV and just waiting to hear language that may cause them to wet themselves with outrage or tittilation? And what are these terrible words that are so offensive?

I remember watching ‘The Dam Busters’ years ago, and being astonished that the TV channel had blanked every mention of Guy Gibson’s black labrador dog called N*gger. I understand that the use of that word is unacceptable today, and it’s not a word that I use myself, but it was the name given to his pet dog by a man who was awarded the Victoria Cross, a hero by any stretch of the imagination. It was acceptable usage at the time, whatever we think now,

And yet the same TV channels will show ‘Braveheart’, which contains multiple graphic depictions of gruesome deaths, including William Wallace being hanged, drawn and quartered just by where St Barts Hospital is sited. (There is now a rather touching plaque on a wall to commemorate this dreadful event).

Oh well, rant over, I’ll go and park myself in the Grumpy Old Git corner.

PS I tried to have the name of the dog in full in my post, but the site would not allow me to do so, which I found wryly amusing.


We recently introduced two of our granddaughters, 10 and 12, to Fawlty Towers. They love it and aren’t phased at all by the many non-PC things contained therein. In fact usually raucous laughter came from them and quiet tut-tutting from my wife and me. We had to buy the DVDs because online apparently we couldn’t view the “Don’t mention the war” episode “in your region”.

We are thinking Only Fools and Horses next and bought the whole lot on DVD for them but it’s a slower burn and I’m not sure they will have the patience to get into it. We though are looking forward to watching the Christmas specials again!


Graham, you are at the wrong end of the stick. You need to see this information as a qualifier rather than a disqualifier.

Its a paradigm shift.


Yet on so much mainstream TV there are vilely-behaving people with no such warning that “this programme contains behaviour that is inane, unpleasant, inconsiderate and bad-mannered, and may be damaging to your children’s development”.

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“Braveheart” should be issued with a warning for being a tale of epic historical inaccuracy if nothing else


Oh, I do understand that, but it is a great film, with Mel Gibson’s attempt at a Scottish accent lending it a certain (and no doubt unintentional) comedic effect. I imagine that a young Sean Connery would have walked it.

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Nothing wrong with being a grumpy old git.
There is always ‘cognitive dissonance’ when we explore what is and isn’t acceptable to ourselves and other people.
I don’t understand why it is ok for people to die of hunger when there is enough food in the world - apparently economics and politics is more important.
I’ve never understood why it is more acceptable to have graphic violence and death on TV than sex between people who love each other.
Sometimes I watch older programmes and still laugh, other times I wonder why I ever found it funny (jokes about rape seem particularly unpleasant nowadays) - sometimes I find both responses in the same programme.
As we hopefully move towards being more civilised (which in itself likely has as many definitions as there are opinions) I suppose there always the balance trying to be hit - how to prevent reinforcing negative attitudes without smothering thought.
Like the inquest result from the young girl who killed herself after watching self-harm on the internet. It seems we have an amazing capability to be both incredibly creative and incredibly stupid.


Now I am one of the older team on this forum. And can recall in my youth, there was a tv programme called (I think) till death us do part, with Alf Garnett.
Now that would surely attract multiple warnings on today’s showings!!


Didn’t Warren Mitchell also star in “Love Thy Neighbour”? I think it was in the same vein…

Each and every episode of "Fawlty Towers’ was, and remains, an example of comic genius from John Cleese. (And only twelve episodes ever.)

I didn’t know that the 'Germans ’ episode had offended Orwell’s Thought Police somewhere. The irony of that is beyond parody.


I was watching a programme last week about the rise of 80’s “Alternative Comedy” and one of the series featured was “Not The 9 O’clock News”. Apparently, the late Ronnie Barker was so offended by this show he wrote a letter of complaint to the BBC which found itself to the show’s producer who in turn shared it with the cast. The result was the “The Two Ninnies” sketch.


Tony Booth, who played Alf Garnett’s son-in-law in from 'Til Death…" was Cherie Blair’s father.

She was a very successful human rights barrister, as Cherie Booth QC. Tony Blair also practised as a barrister until he switched his efforts to politics.

imagine if ‘It aint half hot mum’ was shown now!! casual racism, homophobia abound - funny tho at the time…


‘Mind Your Language’


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Oh do shut up Mother


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Still blo8dy funny though. Watch what you can while, you still can. It will be all banned soon. My wife has a number of young “educated” colleagues who seem to be offended by nearly everything. They also seem to want history blanked out.

Oh dear, how sad, never mind!!


A lot has changed, but I think facts, circumstances and context need to be applied by the censors.

I saw an episode of To the Manor Born a few years back and on the railway station a poster in the background had been pixelated. The title of the poster was still there so I googled that and what had been pixelated was Jimmy Sav****s face.

I read Biggles to my son when he was little, but skipped over the smoking and the casual racism - which made the books shorter.

I got the Thunderbirds box set one Christmas when the kids were small - they loved it but again you’d often see the puppets all smoking at the end of a mission so I suspect that is why it’s not on TV.

One episode of the Sweeney, ‘Hard Men’ which involves the Glasgow underworld had the gangsters firing a distress flair into a hapless kidnapper and setting him alight. That was 1973/4 from memory. (The Sweeney was judged too violent for US audiences at the time.) That’s edited out these days.

Also edited out is Clarence Beek’s foul language in Trading Places, but those words made the lines and the character back in 1984.

‘Get Some In’ also carries a health warning with Tony Selby’s character (and to an extent Robert Lynsey’s) the main offender(s).

Even Thomas the Tank Engine is not as cheeky as he was in the original books. My kids used to laugh at the originals.

That said, there are different sensibilities these days and we do need to pay attention to those, because they do cause pain, and I would hate for someone to miss the story of what Guy Gibson (a 24 year old at the time) and those very brave and very young men did that night because of the use of a word that while historically faithful, offends me, too.

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I rather like the comment by Stephen Fry:

“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so f*cking what."