‘Programmes must at all cost be kept free of crudities, coarseness and innuendo,’ insisted the BBC Variety Programmes Policy Guide For Writers & Producers (generally known as ‘The Green Book’), a long-lived document assembled and taking force during the second half of 1948. ‘Humour must be clean and untainted directly or by association with vulgarity and suggestiveness. Music hall, stage, and to a lesser degree, screen standards, are not suitable to broadcasting . . . There can be no compromise with doubtful material. It must be cut.’ The following were the subject of ‘an absolute ban’:
Jokes about –
Effeminacy in men
Immorality of any kind
Suggestive references to –
Ladies’ underwear, e.g. winter draws on
Animal habits, e.g. rabbits
Extreme care should be taken in dealing with references to or jokes about –
Pre-natal influences (e.g. ‘His mother was frightened by a donkey’)
Good taste and decency are the obvious governing considerations.
The vulgar use of such words as ‘basket’ must also be avoided.
Religion, politics and physical infirmities were all heavily restricted areas, though ‘references to and jokes about drink are allowed in strict moderation so long as they can really be justified on entertainment grounds’. As for expletives, ‘they have no place at all in light entertainment and all such words as God, Good God, My God, Blast, Hell, Damn, Bloody, Gorblimey, Ruddy, etc, etc, should be deleted from scripts and innocuous expressions substituted’.
– David Kynaston, Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 (2007)