17 December 2015 | Ask_Aspel
It Was Alright in the 70s - cracking stuff!
In my humble opinion, It Was Alright in the 70s is one of the most intriguing clip shows made in recent years and I feel the other reviewers have somewhat missed the message. For me the starting point of the show was to consider how we don't often see outrageously offensive casual racism, sexism and homophobia on television these days, in our popular mainstream entertainment.
Yes there are exceptions - Little Britain & The League of Gentlemen among them - but you don't find popular presenters using the n-word these days, nor do you hear mainstream singers perform ballads in which they express the hope that their unborn child doesn't turn out to be gay. But sometimes this would happen on TV in the 70s, as the clips demonstrated. They had absorbing clips of other things we don't see too often now, things that used to happen A LOT - like middle-aged male TV personalities lusting after nubile young women at beauty pageants, or generally being patronising to them.
When you hear a 70s female sitcom character say that she wants to be raped, or you hear a 70s male GP sitcom character say that he likes young school girls and can't wait to go and examine them, it sounds jarring to us. We like to think that we've moved on a bit. Not everyone has, of course, but most people probably have.
No one denies that in the 1970s, we made some of our best TV in the UK - comedy shows like Fawlty Towers, or dramas like and Colditz and I Claudius. Programmes which became the envy of the world. But It Was Alright in the 70s never said that the 70s were terrible, or that 70s TV was terrible. For the other reviewers to say that this is "just a clips show to demonstrate how horrid television was 40 years ago" does not make sense. I think it was trying to point out the way in which popular, everyday TV like sitcoms, chat-shows and music shows reflected the way most people thought at the time. Unfortunately a lot of people at the time were casually sexist, racist and homophobic. These days we put a little more thought into trying to be less sexist, racist and homophobic, on TV anyway, which can only be a good thing. We've got a long way to go, of course...
I think there was balance in the choice of the on-camera commentators too. Many of them expressed the view that you have to judge 70s TV by the standards of the time. For instance, Toby Young said that since it's perfectly right for us today to tolerate people of different ethnicities, people who have different sexualities and people from different cultures, then we should show the same consideration and toleration of people from different eras and the ways in which they made TV. Which I do.
So this show gets a big thumbs-up from me.