BBC film censored?

Parliamentary question asked in the House of Commons by William Hamilton MP about the TV film ‘The War Game’, December 1965 (CAB 21/5808)


Mr. William Hamilton (West Fife): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what representations he made to the British Broadcasting Corporation concerning the Civil Defence film called The War Game and why he exerted pressure to prevent its showing to the public.

Thursday, 2nd December, 1965

None. The British Broadcasting Corporation have made it clear that their decision not to show the film was not the result of outside pressure of any kind.
1. Have you or any other Minister seen the film?
2. Did an officer of the H.O see it?
Yes – along with representatives of other Departments.
3. Did the officials who saw the film express any views as to whether it should be presented?
4. Did they make any comments on it?
Yes; but not in order to influence in any way the decision of the B.B.C.
5. Why then did the B.B.C. decide not to show it?
According to their statement, because it was too horrifying.
6. Did the B.B.C. seek assistance from the Government in the making of the film?
Yes, but we were unable to give it because much of the information asked for raised security considerations.
7. The B.B.C. statement was in the following terms:-

“The B.B.C. has decided that it will not broadcast the War Game, a film on the effects of nuclear war in Britain, produced by Peter Watkins. This is the BBC’s own decision. It has been taken after a good deal of thought and discussion but not as a result of outside pressure of any kind.

When the television service undertook the making of a film on this subject, it recognised the risk that the film might turn out to be unsuitable for general showing. In the event, the effect of the film has been judged by the BBC to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting. It will, however, be shown to invited audiences, including those people who helped to make it.”

Return to Sixties Britain