As previously reported, cinema club pioneer David Waterfield passed away on 31 May 2024. On the 28 October 1973, one year after Lord Longford’s enquiry into pornography, the British television channel ITV aired an episode of The Frost Programme titled ‘Sex and Pornography’. Hosted by the well-known personality David Frost, the episode brought together pornographers, authors, politicians, activists and a general audience to debate the morality of “pornography. At the heart of the episode was a conversation with Lord Longford, who reflected on the findings of his report. The two people who stand out amongst this debate are David Waterfield and John Jesner Lindsay. Waterfield, who owned two North London cinema clubs that screened hardcore pornography, speaks of showing the film Deep Throat (Gerald Damiano 1972). When asked by Frost what effect this had on his audience, Waterfield cheekily responds ‘well, all I can say is that they walk out a lot happier than when they came in’, resulting in laughter from the audience.

The Frost Programme is significant as it demonstrates that pornography had become a subject of open public discussion, but still marked by prurience. Although presented as an entertaining spectacle, the debate illustrates the surfacing of a moral battlefield that later dominated the latter half of the 1970s, with pornographers like Waterfield and Lindsay openly calling for the legalization of pornography, while anti-pornography activists campaigned for stricter regulation. Below is a short clip from this rare broadcast, with Waterfield briefly holding court.