It Ain’t Half Racist Mum

Posted by Dan Dare on Saturday, 21 August 2010 01:48.

To take a reliable reading on where you are it is sometimes helpful to establish a sound bearing where you are starting from.

Brits of a certain age (and perhaps a few others) will almost certainly recognise that the title is a riff on a very popular TV sitcom from the 1970s that - it seems almost surreal now – extended to eight series (US = seasons) and provided the launch pad for at least one post-series musical career in the pop music field. It Ain’t Half Hot Mum operated on a number of different levels. At the time it was transmitted, many Britons would have had recent experience of service in one or another hot and humid locale, ranging from Aden, to Bahrain, to Singapore or Hong Kong. If not personally, then almost certainly a close relative would have done, and would have no doubt regaled friends and family about the challenges involved when dealing with the natives in such places. Many Britons had such thoughts in mind when contemplating the natives who turned up in Blighty, uninvited and unwanted, more or less out of the blue, and part of the genius of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, and the secret behind its popular appeal, was in providing an outlet for such thoughts which, if expressed in real life, would have rendered the culprit liable to prosecution under the Race Relations Act. One of the mysteries of the age is how the BBC found itself able to fund and disseminate such a message, and how it managed to evade censure for quite so long.

But it’s not ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ itself which deserves our attention here, since it is in truth not ranked amongst the BBC’s most celebrated achievements (never having been aired on PBS to my knowledge), but rather a production that took the title above for itself. “It Ain’t Half Racist Mum” was produced for transmission in the BBC’s “Open Door” open access slot, and transmitted in the spring of 1979, a few months before Margaret Thatcher swept to victory on a twin platform of getting Britain back to work and halting the swamping of Britain by unwanted migrants. As it happened, one of the Thatcher’s government’s first administrative actions was to sanction the admittance of 10,000 Vietnamese boat people, whose numbers have now swollen to over 100,000 thanks to the magic of chain migration.

It Ain’t Half Racist Mum is remarkable on a number of fronts. The first is that although it was made only 30 years ago, it presents itself as a counter-establishment, even sub-Marxist piece of agit-prop. Viewing it today, one can only marvel at the extent at which the viewpoints expressed and the language used have become staples of mainstream discourse.

The first video segment, linked below, is relatively uninteresting, presenting as it does the British film-maker responsible for the programme being interviewed in (I think) 1984 by two common-or-garden American dweebs as a preamble to its US broadcast. The subsequent segments are of much greater interest.

 

 

The following segment of the broadcast proper begins with archival footage of an interview by Malcolm Muggeridge with Lord Reith, the first Director-General of the BBC, I’m guessing sometime in the early 1960s (Reith died in 1971). Muggeridge, in trademark style, appears to be taking Reith to task for the BBC’s insistence on the continuing usage of ‘proper’ English in its news broadcasts particularly, and with it a characteristic emphasis gentility and respectability, whereupon which Reith rounds on him asking “Well, is there anything wrong with that?” The producers evidently felt that Reith’s response was evidence of prima facie racism, even though it was probably more in fact class- rather than racially-oriented. Certainly anyone tuning into the BBC today, with its emphasis on ‘inclusivity’ would not draw such a conclusion these days. The contrast between Reith’s defence of decency and Britishness and the utterances of a more recent Director-General could hardly be more pronounced.

It Ain’t Half Racist Mum Part 1

It’s in this segment as well that we have a first glimpse at It Ain’t Half Hot Mum itself, as well as noting the first appearance of Stuart Hall, the Jamaican Marxist academic who provides the linking commentary throughout the piece and who was one of the intellectual motors behind the project. Hall has since then become a ubiquitous figure in the race relations industry in the UK and, although in the programme he is described as being a professor at the Open University, he had for the previous ten years been Director of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University, the closest approach that British academia has made so far in emulating the traditions of the Frankfurt School. A close listening to Hall’s contribution here will stir eerie echoes of Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse et al.

I’m uncertain who the bird with the ginger Afro is, but wouldn’t mind betting that thirty years on she holds down a cushy number in the Sociology department of some minor university, or is involved in some quango or other as a diversity and equality outreach officer.

I couldn’t resist a wry smile at Hall’s attempt to head off the obvious question that would have arisen in viewers’ minds by this point: “If it’s so hellish for ethnics here in Britain, then why are you still here?” We got the good old standby ‘You were there so now we’re here’ with the added bonus that ‘We were all invited anyway”.

The second part continues in similar vein closing on an extended moan about the ‘kid-glove treatment’ treatment given by the BBC interviewer to John Kingsley Read, the now long-forgotten leader of the National Party, itself a short-lived spin-off from the National Front.

It Ain’t Half Racist Mum Part 2

And then Part 3, remarkable only for the edited ‘highlights’ of a 1978 television debate ‘The Question of Immigration’, chaired by the late Robin Day, and with Enoch Powell front and centre, looking like the cat that got the cream.

It Ain’t Racist Mum Part 3

And that’s just about it. All that remains is to reiterate the earlier comment about how what was viewed as nihilistic and neo-marxist agit-prop only thirty years has now become the standard form for mainstream discourse. The Long March has arrived at the Terminus.

 

Tags: Media



Comments:


1

Posted by Angry Beard on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 03:27 | #

I had always assumed that the ‘Char-wallah’ character was actually a native born iNdian.Not only was the make-up job so convincing, but the accent, facial expressions and head-tics were just right.
It was only later that I realised that char-wallah, was in fact an Englishman, the distinguished actor, the late, great Michael Bates.
Apparently Michael Bates, like many Englishmen of his generation, was raised in India, and thus developed his character on personal recollection and experience.


2

Posted by Angry Beard on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 05:24 | #

Also, one musn’t forget that the most popular TV show *ever* broadcast in the UK was Thames Television’s “Love Thy Neighbour” memorably starring Jack Smethurst and Rudolph Walker, that regular pulled in around 20 million viwers - that is most of the UK’s adult population.
Made in the golden age of British TV of the 1970s (before Thatcher ruined commercial TV and satellite competition started), Love Thy Neighbour was a sort of poor man’s Alf Garnett, but with the added spice of cast members calling each other ‘nig-nog’ and ‘honky’ at every opportunity and the odd fact that Eddie Booth (Jack Smethurst), the white, working class ‘comedy bigot’ was a staunch Labour Party supporter whilst his black neighbour was a Tory.
The show was much loved and playground gossip always used to centre around the hilarious antics of last night’s show.
  What were they thinking?

Also much-loved was the ‘Black and White Minstrel Show’ - a Yank import from the old South, of course, but Britain took it to heart.It was BBC1’s biggest prime-time Saturday night draw, pulling in massive audience, it also has the record of being the most popular production ever put on in the West End stage.


3

Posted by Bill on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 07:10 | #

What about Dad’s Army?  Corporal Jones. They don’t like it up’em sir, them fuzzy wuzzies, that is.

On another tack, did you notice BBC news yesterday, (20th August) where BBC lauded veteran Battle of Britain pilots and Churchill’s (‘Few’) speech.

Britain’s war exploits against the Germans have become the last bastion of the politically correct, all else about Britain is negative.  The nasty nation.  (Damn woman!  She’s bigoted)

On the ‘One’ programme (7.00pm same day) the BBC informed us the Great British cultural dishl of the fish shop fish’n chips was introduced by immigrant Jews (cannot recall date where and when.)  Is this true? 

Have you noticed the driver’s mate of the police car in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ is black with a Yorkshire accent?

I’m sure the BBC think we don’t notice such things, trouble is they’re right, my Missus and grand-kids don’t for a start.

As an aside, the only reason ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ has been so successful (IMO) is the undoubted star of the show, the magnificent Yorkshire Pennine scenery.  But of course the BBC already know that.


4

Posted by Lurker on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 13:52 | #

Bill, I ‘m quite partial to Dragon’s Den. At some point the BBC replaced the white Richard Farleigh with the more vibrant asian muslim James Caan.

The only female Dragon - Deborah Meaden has the lowest net worth of the panel, unlike the others her big break was taking over the family business. I’m not decrying her business accumen but all the guys on the panel appear to have more or less built up their companies from scratch. She is also the second oldest and has no children so its not as if time out for child rearing has held her back.

She replaced an earlier female Dragon, Rachel Elnaugh. Why is she no longer on board? Because her company went bust.

So the BBC has strained to avoid an all male panel and blatently replaced a popular white dragon with an asian one.

Im also suspicious to the degree with which inventors and entrepreneurs featured on the prog are either non-whites or women. Im detecting a certain amount of overrepresentation.


5

Posted by Dr Graham Lister on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 19:22 | #

If you go on to watch the second part of the racism documentary it’s presented by that well known “cultural” Marxist and general scumbag Prof. Stuart Hall - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Hall_(cultural_theorist)


6

Posted by Andrew on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 19:47 | #

Professor Spewed over the Hall is a Cultural Nihilist; Tax Funded upper class welfare recipient; unfortunately he is only a single censer cell amongst many thousands of Malignant cells that cause the deterioration of Intellect and National Net worth : If we value our Societies , then it is about time that we acted to defend and regain them; I am sure many are sick of funding and listening to the brain dead bastards , so it is time to stop winging and start the recovery of the initiative of cutting out the cultural cancer cells.
If not for us now , then for our childrens future ; for there will not a future to be had.


7

Posted by Dan Dare on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 20:52 | #

Incidentally, here is part of Robert McKenzie’s 1977 interview with Enoch Powell, which was briefly mentioned in Part 2 of It Ain’t Half Racist Mum.

Powell is on particularly fine form and totally unrepentant about his stance on repatriation, regretting only that if anything he was not pessimistic enough about likely future developments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fw0rUJbE9k&feature=related


8

Posted by Dan Dare on Sun, 22 Aug 2010 02:00 | #

Angry Beard, you are now being put on your mettle.

For twenty bonus points, are you able to identify the cultural artifact with which the native bearer Rangi Ram secures his turban? I feel quite certain that GW or Gorbo may be able to provide a clue should it be slightly before your time. All English men of a certain age will have worn such an item during their formative years.


Lamp


9

Posted by Nosey Parker on Sun, 22 Aug 2010 04:13 | #

For twenty bonus points, are you able to identify the cultural artifact with which the native bearer Rangi Ram secures his turban?
 
Ha ha ha ha ha.

Is it some type of reptile belt?


10

Posted by Angry Beard on Sun, 22 Aug 2010 04:15 | #

It’s a ‘pharoah belt’ - so called because the metal buckle was cast in a shape that was said to resemble the head of Tutankhamoun, for some odd reason.
They were still around in the 1970s, all the trendy kids had them, but unfortunatey, not being in charge of the purse-strings at that tender age I never had one : (.
As I remember they were made of a two-toned elasticated material and had an adjustable grip to keep up the tension.They were on sale at the loacl market.


11

Posted by Angry Beard on Sun, 22 Aug 2010 05:01 | #

The 1970s were a golden age of a certain type of distinctly British TV comedy, that dealt, in the main, with the pre-occupations of the then cherished working-class (eg industrial relations, race etc), i a highly typified way in which the ever chipper salt of the earth Cockney type usually cae up trumps.One thinks of ‘On the Buses’ with Reg Varney as indefitagable cheery PBI and Blakey as Hitler, and the lecherous buck-toothed Jack the conductor.
Anyway, it was a truism of that era, the dog-days of British cinema, when former luxurious 1930s picture palaces were closing left, right and centre to be replaced by uber-prole ‘Bingo Halls’, that the TV spin-off was staple of the repetoire.Virtually every popular TV sitcom from ‘On the Buses’ to ‘Porridge’ got the big screen treatment, including th most popular of all ‘Love ty Neighbour’.
  Only that particular film has well and truly disappeared down the memory hole.Harder to find than child porn, in fact.


12

Posted by Lurker on Sun, 22 Aug 2010 13:22 | #

Those belts - we called them ‘snake belts’ never knew they had another name.


13

Posted by Dan Dare on Sun, 22 Aug 2010 14:37 | #

Indeed.

Lamp



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