Control of Expression

Control of expression that is regarded as outside of and a threat to the religious, political, and social orthodoxy of the time.


This is one definition of censorship offered by Barbara Hoffman (2003). Furthermore, Hoffman stipulates that ‘Manifestations of the control of artistic expression are historically and culturally specific’ (Hoffman 2003). The theoretical framework illustrated here provides a considerably sound foundation for building on how homosexuality was documented in the 1980s—specifically the suppression of efforts to document a specific facet of the human experience in a specific time and place constituting a definition of censorship.

This approach to documentation is particularly interesting in light of the BBC’s broadcasting history. Lord Reith, first Director-General of the BBC when the post was formed in 1927 by Royal Charter and to whom Reithianism refers, set an agenda of widening what content was broadcast to be universal, representing all points of view. He famously said, ‘All that is best in every department of human knowledge, endeavour and achievement […] The preservation of a high moral tone is obviously of paramount importance.’ (Mowat 1955, p. 242). And yet, despite the moralistically egalitarian sentiment, the ‘high moral tone’ characterises the institution as one which would no surprisingly take issue with explicitly sexual and, in Hoffman’s words, ‘outside of […] religious, political and social orthodoxy at the time’. This hypocrisy might be useful to consider in light of further research for this project in light of the perception of homosexuality as subversive in the 1980s UK and US.


Hoffman, Barbara, ‘Censorship’, Grove Art Online, 1 January January 2003 <> [accessed 29 January 2019]

Mowat, Charles Loch, Britain Between the Wars (London: Metheun, 1955)

Scannell, Paddy and David Cardiff, A Social History of British Broadcasting, Vol. I: 1922–1939 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Press, 1990)