The Null Device

Not to be broadcast

The Times has an interesting article about pieces of music banned by the BBC at various times. There are, of course, the obvious examples (The Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen, Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax, John Lennon's Imagine during the Gulf War), but there are also far more bizarre ones, in which the BBC's Reithian paternalist tradition (now, seemingly, relinquished to Blairite market-pleasing) translated into a heavy-handed, stentorian authoritarianism, often quite arbitrarily:
If Celine Dion had been around during the Second World War, she would have been silenced by the Dance Music Committee. One 1942 directive read: “We have recently adopted a policy of excluding sickly sentimentality which, particularly when sung by certain vocalists, can become nauseating and not at all in keeping with what we feel to be the need of the public in this country in the fourth year of war.”
“The head of religious broadcasting was a bit of a tyrant,” Leigh says. “Don Cornell's Hold My Hand, which was a No 1 in 1954, was banned because he didn't think a relationship with a girl could be likened to the ‘Kingdom of Heaven'.
Equally sinful, in the committee's eyes, was having the audacity to reshape a classical tune into something more swinging. One barbarian at the gates was Perry Como: I'm Always Chasing Rainbows was his rendition of Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu in C sharp minor. “This is a bad perversion of a Chopin melody and should be barred,” the BBC snarled, and, even in 1963, they stopped Ken Dodd's cover version from being broadcast.

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