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Je T'Aime - Sex Please, We're British

57 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 06 March 2013

We've always had an uneasy relationship with our European cousins and their continental mores and morals, especially when they come over here and rub our face in it. Here was a bug-eyed Frenchman performing a racy duet with his young lover. And she was blatantly mimicking sexual pleasure. And what was worse was she was British! The cheek of it!

It was the Sixties and sex seemed to be everywhere in the arts. Lady Chatterley's Lover had been banned for thirty years and triumphed in an obscenity trial that same decade. The musical Hair was delayed from opening in London because of censorship. The Rolling Stones' "Redlands" court-case, ostensibly about possession of drugs, had been further mired in suggestive sexual misbehavior. And a little later the counter-culture magazine Oz went through the longest obscenity trial in the UK.

But in the case of Je T'Aime, despite it being foreign, and despite it seeming to be quite rude, we loved it. And unlike many other countries, the UK didn't ban the track. In fact we bought it by the truck-load; it flew into the number one slot.

But perhaps in hindsight this shouldn't have been so surprising. The music hall had been founded on innuendo. George Formby had become a massive star, singing songs that were pretty much predicated on a single innuendo. So we willingly absorbed Je T'aime into our 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink' Benny Hill, Carry On pop culture.

In this episode Stuart will attempt to trace the evolution of British attitudes to sex, scandal and pop music. Do you recall the release of Je T'aime? Were you offended... or aroused? The People's Songs wants to hear from you...

Music Played

14 items
  • Image for Chakachas

    Chakachas Jungle Fever

  • Image for Donna Summer

    Donna Summer Love To Love You Baby

  • Image for Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin

    Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin Je T'Aime

  • Image for The Rolling Stones

    The Rolling Stones Let's Spend The Night Together

  • Image for Traffic

    Traffic Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

  • Image for France Gall

    France Gall Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son

  • Image for Serge Gainsbourg & Bridget Bardot

    Serge Gainsbourg & Bridget Bardot Je T'Aime

  • Image for Ohio Express

    Ohio Express Yummy Yummy Yummy

  • Image for Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin

    Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin Je T'Aime

  • Image for Max Romeo

    Max Romeo Wet Dream

  • Image for George Formby

    George Formby With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock

  • Image for Serge Gainsbourg

    Serge Gainsbourg Les Amours Perdues

  • Image for The Original London Cast Of Hair

    The Original London Cast Of Hair Aquarius

  • Image for David Bowie

    David Bowie Let's Spend The Night Together

  • Share your comments and stories

    Your contributions will play a key part in this episode, take a look at the questions below and send us your thoughts:

    • Did you buy Je T’aime… or did you find it shocking?
    • Do you remember the musical Hair… or Lady Chatterley’s Lover?
    • Do you think the British have a strange relationship with sex?
    • Should pop music push boundaries? Is scandal good in pop?

    You can send us an email now

    or read about other ways to contribute


Song Profiles


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