Here are some quotes from Mary Whitehouse, the campaigner who in the 1970’s criticised ‘Doctor Who’ for being too violent. She was particularly upset about ‘The Seeds of Doom’, ‘The Brain of Morbius’ and, most famously, the scene where the Doctor was apparently drowned in ‘The Deadly Assassin’.
“What finally persuaded me to complain was a story I heard from a young mother who lives nearby. During the week following the programme, her son of five said to her, apparently a propos of nothing in particular, ‘Mummy, I know what to do with (his younger brother) when he makes me cross. I shall hold his head under the bath water until he’s still like the man did with Dr. Who’. The truth of the matter, of course, is that ‘Doctor Who’ was always intended as an early evening adult viewer catcher – catch ’em early and you’ve got them for the night, so the ‘research’ shows. After all, we must keep our priorities right, mustn’t we?
“The programme contains some of the sickest and most horrific material ever seen on children’s television, but no-one has to take my word that such material is likely to disturb. For young children, even a week may be too long to wait for reassurance that the characters with whom they identify are safe. Doctor Who has turned into tea-time brutality for tots. My personal reaction to the sight of the Doctor being viciously throttled underwater is unimportant. What’s important is the effect of such material – especially in a modern setting – upon the very young children still likely to be watching. Strangulation – by hand, by claw, by obscene vegetable matter – is the latest gimmick, sufficiently close-up so that they get the point. And, just for a little variety, show the children how to make a Molotov cocktail.
“So what are we to do? Sit back and say nothing when – after panning to the contorted visage of the demented murderer – the final shot of this particular episode was a close-up shot of the Doctor’s apparently drowned face lying still beneath the water? Nothing said – a new barrier broken.”