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Britain's Most Dangerous Songs: Listen to the Banned

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Review

Many pop-culture documentaries are really about shifting social mores, with loosening attitudes in society neatly reflected by ever bolder expressions of creativity. So it is with this list show, which ticks off several things you couldn’t say back in the day, but could easily get away with now. Mentioning a brand name (the Kinks) or being downbeat during a war (Bing Crosby), for example? Tame stuff.

Yet it’s not so simple. Would Heaven 17’s explicit labelling of the US president as a fascist merrily blare from Radio 1 now? And how would the dark emperor of banned singles, God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols, fare? It’s hard to tell, since none of 2014’s glossily marketed pop products would dare be so cheeky, although the Beeb’s excising of Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead from its chart rundown following the death of Margaret Thatcher is a clue. All the usual talking heads are on hand to discuss and reminisce.

Summary

The stories of 10 songs, dating from the 1930s to the present day, that were considered unsuitable by the BBC for broadcasting on its radio and television stations. Tunes include My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock by George Formby to the Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen, though it is perhaps surprising that Bing Crosby and the Munchkins are among the other performers on the list. The reasons why these records were censored reveals much of the changing controversies around youth culture. Contributors include Carrie Grant, Paul Morley, Stuart Maconie, Glen Matlock, Mike Read and Jon Robb.

Cast & Crew

Contributor Carrie Grant
Contributor Paul Morley
Contributor Stuart Maconie
Contributor Glen Matlock
Contributor Mike Read
Contributor Jon Robb
Director Jenny Macleod
Executive Producer Pauline Law
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Music Arts

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