How George Formby rocked the BBC

Beloved by the nation and counting Queen Mary among his millions of fans, George Formby was the epitome of wartime family entertainment.

But the Wigan-born legend did have a cheeky side that more than once landed him in trouble with the censors.

Documents released this week confirm that some of the risque lyrics to his most famous songs got Formby into hot water.

The BBC's Dance Music Policy Committee, who were later to ban Bobby Darin's Mack the Knife and the scandal-hit Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg song Je T'Aime... took great issue with George's Little Stick of Blackpool Rock. Ooo-er!

The files, which stretch from the 1930s to the 1960s, itemise countless examples of songs which the Beeb felt might cause concern or outrage.

Formby appears to have had a one-to-one relationship with the Committee.

A memo in 1946 reads: "We have no record that With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock is banned.

"We do, however, know, and so does Formby, that certain lines in the lyric must not be broadcast."

Reading the words now it is not difficult to spot the Carry On-style innuendo which, by today's standards, seem pretty tame. But in those days – when Arthur Askey was banned from radio for saying the word "blast" – this was edgy stuff.

Gerry Mawdsley, president of the Wigan-based George Formby Society, says Blackpool Rock was not the only song to cause a stir.

He said: "When I'm Cleaning Windows got George banned by the BBC but it didn't seem to do his career much harm.

"I suppose With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock had similar connotations to My Ding-a-ling. It was risque, like his mentioning of knickers and bloomers, but it didn't cause any harm.

"Back then George wasn't as naughty as, say Max Miller. Queen Mary actually asked him to sing the songs that he sang for the soldiers, which suggests she didn't want an abridged version of his songs with the cheeky bits taken out."