What is the BBFC?
The BBFC is The British Board of Film Classification, it is not government ran, it is a stand-alone organisation that started in 1912 by the general film industry. The BBFC is behind the UK’s classification and censorship of films, television and even advertisements (i.e. when and where to broadcast them).
UNIVERSIAL | U
The BBFC states that ‘U’ rated films should be suitable for audiences aged 4+, they should have positivity and if there is any given violence or threat, it is counteracted by good. Within a U:
Discrimination is not allowed.
If drugs are references it must be educational.
Children could want to imitate bad behaviour, therefore there is to be no emphasis on weapons.
An infrequent use of very mild bad language is okay.
If nudity is involved, it is not to be of sexual content.
No sexual behaviour, kissing and mild acts are okay.
Violence should be very mild and then overcame.
Threats can cause anxiety within young children therefore, if any, they should be mild with a good outcome.
Examples of U rated films are cartoons ‘Finding Nemo’ (2003) and ‘A Bug’s Life’ (1998).
PARENTAL GUIDENCE | PG
PG is for general viewing, just not for younger children and they can contain for upsetting themes and sensitive content. Within a PG:
Discrimination still is not allowed, unless it is of educational or historical context.
Drugs, once again, much have an anti and educational message.
No dangerous behaviour that children could copy, it must be presented as safe and fun.
The language once again should be mild.
No nudity with sexual content and sexual activity can be implied, but discreetly …
Threats should not be intense or prolonged and there may be moderate violence in the context of history, comedy or fantasy.
SUITABLE FOR 12 & OVER | 12/12A
The difference between a 12 and a 12A, is that under 12’s may see a 12A in the cinema, if accompanied by an adult- by then it is the parent/guardian’s decision of the film’s appropriateness. Within a 12:
Discrimination must be endorsed all the way through and aggressive discrimination won’t be acceptable.
Drugs can be misused but not glamorised or with any tutorial.
There should not be promotion of behaviour that children could copy and no glamorisations of weapons.
There can be more moderate language and in fact stronger language, dependent on the way it is used and the frequency.
Nudity and sex is permeable but it must be brief and discreet manner and infrequently.
Threat can be more intense but the overall tone should not be distressing to the viewer and should not be frequent or long lasting.
There can be moderate violence but with no emphasis on gore.
SUITABLE FOR 15 & OVER | 15
Unlike a 12A, no one under the age of 15 is permitted to see a 15 in the cinema, nor buy and rent a film with a 15 certificate. Within a 15:
Discrimination should not be the general message however there may be occasional racism and homophobic themes and language.
Drug use should not promote or encourage, once again with no instructional detail, and the use of easily accessible substances such as bleach is unlikely to be acceptable.
Behaviour like self harm and suicide should not be of great detail but may be portrayed. The use of weapons depends on their accessibility and the realism, context and setting.
There may be strong language and in some cases very strong language- dependent on its context.
Nudity is okay, just any sexual content should be without strong detail. Any films that have a key theme of sexual arousal or stimulation should be higher than a 15.
There may be strong threat and horror but a main focus on sadistic and sexual threat, probably won’t be acceptable.
Violence is okay however, explicitly gory images or sadistic violence probably won’t be acceptable. Indications of sexual violence must be discreet.
SUITABLE FOR 18 & OVER | 18
On the BBFC’s website, the write up of an 18 has a very different structure to the other certificates. 18’s are only suitable for adults. However there are exceptions for 18’s which cause them to roll over to the 18R category, which can only be viewed in select cinemas. These are the following exceptions:
The content breaches criminal law or has been created though a criminal offence.
The material risks harm to an individual’s behaviour- i.e. detailed acts of violence and recreational drug use with tutorial. Including sadistic and sexual violence that are slightly glorified.
With in explicit sexual content, it splits into 2 sections: Sex Education and Sex Works.
Sex education is where the image seeks to inform and educate safer sex, health and human sexuality.
Sex works are films that’s purpose is sexual arousal and stimulation. Images of real sex, strong material and very strong explicit sexual images will be moves to the R18 category.