Classic BBC divorce documentary

The BBC has released from its archives a selection of recordings and videos from the 1950s and 60s on the subject of marriage. Amongst them is a Panorama report from 1963 which 'looks into the current proposal for changes to the law that would prevent the need for a 'matrimonial offence' to have been committed and grant a divorce if a couple have been separated for seven years'. In other words, Leo Abse's Matrimonial Causes Bill, which became the oft-forgotten Matrimonial Causes Act 1963. I thought that the video would be of historical interest, but I have to admit that it was more amusing (in a 'Mr Cholmondley-Warner' sort of way) than educational.

Highlights include:
  • a wonderfully non-pc sequence with a young couple where the man lights two cigarettes and hands one to his partner;

  • a private eye trying manfully (and failing) to re-enact a meeting with an adulterer;

  • interviewees hopelessly 'anonymised' by a sort of shadow-burqa; and

  • an interview with Mrs Olive Parker, who was everything one would expect a Mothers' Union spokesman to be.
Sixteen minutes classic viewing.


  1. Best thing I have seen on BBC Tv for years.... I love hypocrisy...and rooting it out.

    Was that clip an early episode of Pythons?..... wonderfully absurd people in it....

    Surprised the BBC hasn't put that clip out as part of their BBC 4 Comedy offerings....

  2. Yes, I thought of Python when I watched it!

    Glad you liked it.

  3. "Hypocrisy 1963" - yeah, the BBC could follow this with a release of their programmes on the "scandals" of around that year - one of which was Denning's whitewash job on the Profumo affair...

    "Pythonesque" - We can all laugh at the over formal manners on so on now but there was usually a sincere attempt to "educate, inform and entertain" behind them. Note the "Man Alive" on the BBC site: where are those kind of programmes now, on any social issues, let alone legal ones?


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