It is a good thing to be laughed at

Although tame by today’s standards, when it was first aired by the BBC in 1962, the late-night satirical TV show That Was The Week That Was broke new ground as its incredibly talented cast and crew mocked the political establishment in a manner previously unseen on television, live to millions of viewers. Unsurprisingly, the reaction from some was heated. Immediately after the first episode was broadcast, Reginald Bevins — then-Postmaster General and minister in charge of broadcasting — angrily informed enquiring journalists, “I’m going to do something about this.” Unfortunately for him, then-Prime Minister Harold Macmillan — a regular target of the show — didn’t share his opinion, and quickly sent him the following memo.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of the National Archives.


Broadcasting (Gen)

Admiralty House
Whitehall. S.W.1

Post Master General

I hope you will not repeat not take any action about “That was the week that was” without consulting me.

It is a good thing to be laughed at.

It is better than to be ignored.