This week in 1974 - Birmingham pub bombings and Last Tango in Paris banned

editorial image

This week, 42 years ago, the Birmingham Pub Bombings took place. On November 21, 1974, bombs were planted in two Birmingham pubs – the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town. The explosions killed 21 people and injured 182 others.

Six men – the so-called ‘Birmingham Six’ – were jailed for life for the bombings but were released 16 years later, in 1991, when their convictions were quashed by the Court Of


In London, three time-bombs blasted pillar boxes during the rush hour. Commander Robert Huntley, the head of Scotland Yard’s Bomb Squad, described the bombings as a “classic IRA tactic to cause chaos.” Twenty people were hurt in the explosions.

Trouble in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s military rulers stunned the country’s 25 million people with the news that 60 former ministers, officials and military officers had been summarily executed.

Radio bulletins of the executions were broadcast in an announcement by the 120-man Supreme Military Council, which had ruled the country since former Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed in a military coup.

Tin can Maggie

Back on home soil, Margaret Thatcher, who was about to challenge for the leadership of the Conservative Party, angered housewives and MPs in a magazine article in which she admitted to stockpiling tinned food.

The future Prime Minister said she had been squirrelling away groceries such as ham, tongue, tinned fish and fruit, jams and marmalades for “some time”.

Left-wing Labour MP Dennis Skinner seized on the subject in the Commons. He asked the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, to extend the wealth tax to include food hoarders.

Film goers get Tangoed

Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango In Paris, a Franco-Italian erotic drama starring Marlon Brando, went on trial at the Old Bailey in what was regarded as the most important obscenity trial since the Lady Chatterley’s Lover case in 1960. It was the first occasion on which a film passed by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) had been prosecuted.

The case was thrown out on a point of law. The film, however, was not allowed on British television until the 1990s, when it was shown on Channel 4 as part of its ‘Banned’ season.