By JOAN NEWTON
A RECENT letter from a reader —which I was not surprised to get—contained the suggestion that I might be able to give some kind of classification of TV plays with family viewing in mind.
His letter had followed my praise of Alun Owen's "No Tram to Lime Street" the other week which, I knew, some Catholic families might have thought too strong meat for the family. The whole problem of TV programmes for family viewing is very tricky.
Book, film. play, and other critics get the chance of seeing their material before the general public does and so arc able to guide them as to whether young people should read or see the subject under discussion.
With TV and radio programmes there is usually only one performance and then the thing is all over. It would be quite impossible for me to read every script that was going to be heard or seen on the air in order to give advance guidance in this matter.
THE only possible solution is for parents to go by their own experience. They know best what their families can cope with.
It isn't only the seemingly low
brow programmes which are the most harmless—I am speaking now about plays—because those quite funny and very naive comedies starring Brian Rix and Co. are about as full of bedroom humour as any play could be. Practically every line contains some kind of double meaning.
We can suppose that the youngest members of the family can laugh at the slapstick without understanding the rather suggestive jokes. The older members of the family just get bored.
FAST Sunday the B.B.C. gave us a play by John Harrison which some publicity hand-outs would describe as "torrid". It was very intelligently timed for 9.40 when it could be supposed that most younger people would be in bed.
There was no customary "unsuitable for children" warning from the announcer, but I do think that this play did contain more than the necessary number of love-scenes.
It was a good play—quite an exciting play—about an escaping ex-Dictator and well acted by Paul Scofield and Margaret Johnston among others. But I think the time has more than come when producers could think carefully of the effect on their young viewers of play after play containing such a large proportion of passionate embraces.
This problem of so much visual love-making does not, of course, apply to the radio and that has the Third Programme. anyhow, for the more adult plays. Perhaps anxious parents could play safe in the evenings and switch off the TV and plug in the radio instead.