Hot Movies icon Free Sample Minutes
Hot Movies

 Censorship of Films on TV

 Television Archive

Undated    Film Cuts on BBC...

Hot Movies icon

Free Sample Minutes
Hot Movies



BBC respond to complaint about cuts to Thelma and Louise

BBC logoThis is a stock reply but it does give some indication of BBC thinking so I thought I would post it.

Thank you for your comments regarding the BBC's screening of Thelma and Louise. As you probably know, both the BBC and ITV are required to exercise control over the content of all their output. Every feature film we show is considered individually and in some cases scenes containing excessive violence bad language or explicit sex may be considered unacceptable for television viewing. Film makers themselves recognise that alternative versions may be required for different audiences and they chose to undertake the task themselves at the shooting stage, as in the case of "Beverly Hills Cop" and "The French Connection".

We are not in the habit of making cuts, and we only do so for a small number of controversial films over the course of the year. In general (What a load of bollocks, they cut practically every modern film intended for a mature audience. A brief  survey shows that between 30% to 80% of post watershed films are cut on BBC1), we try to match films to time slots so that the need for editing is minimal. However, we know from experience that excessive violence, explicit sexual scenes and excessive use of strong language are still offensive to many viewers when presented as entertainment in their own homes and available at a mere press of a button. You may have noticed that to avoid this as much as possible, we have improved our "family viewing" warnings and now provide modern cinema certificates in the film pages of RADIO TIMES. We also aim to tell viewers if we have cut a film and explain why.

On BBC-1 we normally edit unacceptable language. Having said that, there are some exceptions when a film may be shown on BBC-1 uncut. Usually this decision is only made when we feel it involves a prestigious film of serious intent which is highly regarded by the public as having high artistic merit. Even then, it is only permitted if the language is used in a justifiable context and it is scheduled well after the 9.00pm "watershed".

BBC-2 has a slightly different policy, although they are obviously still bound by the BBC's guidelines of taste and decency. A film is far more likely to be shown unedited on BBC-2, particularly when a suitable context is found, such as an item on "Moving Pictures", for instance. As I have already explained, however, some films are produced in more than one version by the original film producer in agreement with the director, and we often show both the cut and the uncut versions at various times while it is under licence, depending on its slot.

I hope I have been able to clarify a very complicated situation. I would like to assure you that we do take a great deal of care when taking a decision to edit films to ensure that the cuts are as minor and unobtrusive as possible. At the end of the day, we have to balance the need to respect the wishes of both the film-makers and the general audience.

Your further comments have been registered and will passed on to those directly concerned.

Thank you for your feedback.

BBC Information


1st September 1986    Red Triangle Films...

Hot Movies

Free Sample Minutes

Hot Movies



Channel 4 experiment with onscreen warning of adult films

red triangle logo Channel 4 experimented with the idea of identifying adult films with an onscreen "Red Triangle" symbol (actually a bit of a misnomer - it was a white triangle with red edging). The official C4 term was Special Discretion Required.

The experiment was never continued possibly because of the ensuing notoriety.

The films shown were

  • 19/09/86 Themroc (1972, "Invented Language")
  • 03/10/86 Pastoral Hide-and-See (1974, Japanese)
  • 10/10/86 Throw Away Your Books; Let's Go Into the Streets (1971, Japanese, TV Version)
  • 17/10/86 Identification of a Woman (1982, Italian/French)
  • 24/10/86 Pixote (1981, Brazilian)
  • 31/10/86 The Clinic (1982, Australian)
  • 14/11/86 Montenegro, or: Pigs and Pearls (1981, Swedish/British, with a Yugoslavian director!)
  • 28/11/86 No Mercy, No Future (1981, West German)
  • 10/01/87 Out of the Blue (1980, American)
  • 17/01/87 The Wall (1983, Turkish)


UK Censorship
 UK Censorship News Archive: 1998 1999
 UK Parliament Watch Archive: 1996 1997 1998 1999
 Opinion: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
 Legal Debate Mail order R18s, satellite proscription etc
 Proscription of Adult Satellite Channels Department for Culture, Media, Sport & Proscription
 Human Rights Abuse - Where Do You Draw The Line? by IanG
 Films On TV Red Triangle films on Channel 4 and the cutting of Thelma and Louise on the BBC
 BSC Guidelines Worthless guidelines on taste and decency from the defunct Broadcasting Standards Commission
 Obscene Interpretation of the Law A police raid on porn historian David Flint
 Obscenity Trials The only obscenity is British Justice
 The Black Market for Sex Videos The Pornographer's Best Friend
 Customs Guidelines & Seizures Up until 2000
 The People vs HM Customs Heroic battles against HM Customs
 Escalating Costs HMRC uses as much money as it takes to ensure decisions cannot be challenged in court (Oct 2000)
 Customs Poking Around in your Lap-top