Back in the late 90’s the UK to a large extent was still basking in the glow of the early years of Tony Blair’s Labour government, and of course, the liberalisation of censorship that had become rife under the 18 years of Tory rule.
One of the things liberalised were films thanks to the new regime at the BBFC, so the likes of The Exorcist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre finally got an official UK release as opposed to being the sort of thing that’d you’d only see at a film club or on a dodgy VHS copy.
This discussion from Channel 4’s Censored season in 1999 is a bizarre bit of history and when snippets like 200 MP’s signing a petition to ban Natural Born Killers, but only six actually saw it is sneaked into the conversation, then you realise just how little we’ve moved on in the last 16 years. It’s a fascinating discussion, and when A.A. Gill is one of the most sensible voices or the Child’s Play 3 myth has to be debunked (possibly for the first time on a mainstream British programme) to people that should know better then it’s an example of the problems of discussing censorship. People for the sort of hard censorship they demand find any old reasons to ban something as this programme exemplifies perfectly.
It’s also a reminder of the time when Channel 4 wasn’t just a stream of shite programming and when they tried to do some real challenging programmes like this.