Lord Longford snorted balderdash

Back in 1971, Dr Martin Cole caused quite a stir with his sex education film “Growing Up”


The scenes that made the front pages involved a 15-year old boy, naked except for a vest, lying on a bed wanking with an blank expression on his face; a young naked woman lying on her side, also masturbating; and a naked couple having rather slow and ritualistic intercourse on a clinically bare set.

The education minister, Margaret Thatcher, denounced the film but said she had no powers to stop it being shown in schools.

Lord Longford snorted ‘Balderdash!’ and stormed out. He was in the middle of researching his anti-pornography bill, which involved watching an ‘exhaustive catalogue of sex films’, visiting a sex supermarket, and going to a strip club, which he found ‘neither pleasant nor unpleasant’.

Lord Longford

The leader of Birmingham Council saw the film and said he felt ‘debased’ by a ‘pseudo-technical display of sexual depravity … This man [Cole] must be totally obsessed with sex.’

To be fair, that might well have been true. The man who the Sun rapidly dubbed ‘Sex King Cole’ responded: ‘These people are clearly tormented by their own neuroses.’

not to be confused with Nat King Cole

The real storm broke when it turned out that the woman wanking in the film was a schoolteacher, 23-year old Jennifer Muscutt, who taught liberal studies to 15-year old boys. Her husband, also a teacher, defended her involvement and said if they had children they’d have no problem showing it to them.

By now, screenings of the film were playing to huge audiences. It was shown by everyone from the Defence of Literature and Arts Society to a Birmingham strip club, which advertised it alongside artistes Saucy Susan, Delightful Delilah and Tantalising Teresa.

Saucy Susan

Just when it looked like it was finally going away – eight months later – questions were raised in the House of Commons about Cole’s use of female volunteers as sex therapists. A young woman had written to him, impressed by his claims in the papers about his treatment for impotent men, and asked to find out more – Cole quickly set her up having sex with his clients in her flat at £1.50 a pop until her policeman boyfriend banged on the door in the middle of a session.


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34 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve been to plenty of strip clubs and they were all either pleasant or unpleasant. Usually pleasant though.

    Could you imagine if they tried to show this in America, even in 2010? I think the Christian Rights’ collective head would explode. –wow that came out weird. –ok, I’ll stop now.

    • That ‘pleasant nor unpleasant’ remark totally jumped out at me too! I’d say him sitting on the fence like that makes for a pretty safe bet that he enjoyed himself, even if just a little bit…

      • course he did 😉

  2. Lord Longford was a pretty risible character and tended to receive the contempt he mostly deserved. He also campaigned for the release of a notorious child killer.

    • oh…. not the child killer with my name I hope

  3. Hey, I remember that film – and that scene !!!

    The ‘All-Nighter’ during threshers week at Stirling University, Scotland in 1973 included non-stop showings of that film in one of the lecture halls close to the bar and disco.

    I remember it being pretty ‘steamy’ for the times

    I only watched it five two times – honest ! 😉 😆

    • Yes, I believe you Duncan

  4. I never saw “Growing Up,” but I did see “Donkey Lunch.”

    • I believe Donkey Lunch had a more elaborate set

  5. “Sex King Cole”? Didn’t he record “Moan-a Lisa”, and “Wankin’ My Baby Back Home”?

  6. Yes, plus a lovely Christmas album, all of whose titles are sacred.

    Cole Porker

  7. Such a tough, challenging job for poor old Lord Longford, but I guess someone had to do it.

  8. I can see why he was shocked. I mean, who wears a vest except when engaged in depravity? Now excuse me while I get back to my exhaustive research.

  9. I have always preferred my pornography in the flesh – – –

  10. Naked except for a VEST? That is terrible.

    • Agreed !

      That is absolutely shocking 😯

      Might at least have had the decency to keep his socks on !!!

  11. Like all pols, he found a way to get the government to fund his vices. 🙂

  12. Nat King Cole checking out the smoking accessories! I’ve always loved his singing, now I love it even more. Fascinating post.

    • That’s a great image isn’t it?

  13. I suppose it must have been all those sex films and that put those glasses and that expression on his face…

    • He could curdle milk….

  14. LOVE that image of Banksy

  15. Brits and sex: There’s nothing like it. Anything that could get Mags to admit that she was powerless has something going for it!

    The Nymphette School Girls and Their Strip Tease would be a great band name!

  16. That Longford fellow looks like quite the creepy old boy. I wonder if the strippers he visited found him to be unpleasant? He belongs on the cover of a Dickins novel.

    • He looks like I imagine Uriah Heep to look

  17. Is there a film about the strip tease torture kick too? I think that might be more educational.

    • Ask your ninja. Ninjas know everything

  18. HEY! I am willing to do a study like this, send me some grant money

    • Let’s have a look at your 300 page application first

  19. I was still living in England at the time and I remember all this kerfuffle (sp?) even though I was only 11.

    • So I suppose 11 was considered too young for sex education? I think I was 12 when we had it at my school.

      • Yeah. I was twelve and at high school. I asked the teacher what happens if either person needs to have a pee in the middle of it all. She wasn’t very pleased; didn’t really answer. I think I just wanted to be reassured that no one was ever going to pee inside me!

  20. I don’t think that’s a video I’d like to see. Curious as to what happen when the cop showed up to his door.

  21. I worked for Lord Longford indirectly once ….. it involved watching drug addicts die ….. it’s a long story …… *feeling sad now*

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