We are a small production company producing adult gay videos for the UK
market...specifically R18 product. We have now released 16 titles dating from August 1996,
as you know there has been considerable "controversy" (from everybody except the
general public) regarding this format.
Here is a little history of the way we as a business have been shafted by the Board
(well, the Home Office really as the BBFC has now completely given up on any pretence of
In the middle period of 1997 we had four titles passed and certificated which contained
visible oral sex, close up erections and masturbation.
In August 1997 we submitted a further three titles with oral sex. In September we
received an Interim Clearance Form (issued prior to the full certificate) on one of the
All then went quiet, no cuts lists, no certificate (though we were not too worried as
it often takes the BBFC up to 12 weeks to issue a certificate if you are a small
company...). Then in mid-October a bolt out of the blue. A phone call to the BBFC
initiated the confession that in fact they were not issuing certificates on R18 product
for "a couple of months" whilst they reviewed how explicit product should be
allowed to be. The consultations were to be with Police, Customs, the Home Office and
"the general public", which
in fact meant a small number of largely symbolic Roadshows.
Nobody from our business was invited to comment. Which is funny really as I can tell a
very interesting story about the massive infiltration of hardcore pornography in to the
UK...how that market is worth much more than the legitimate one and how the UK has
Europe's most unregulated and strongest hardcore product. Material banned on the Continent
as too violent, unpleasant or for having models under 18, is quite simply dumped in the UK
where there are no irksome regulations to deal with.
If you were a cynic you might say that the government was pursuing a twin track
policy..be tough on legitimate, visible suppliers like myself as a means of looking good
in the right-wing trash press and avoid having to actually deal with the difficult problem
of real pornography.
What had actually happened is that Customs and Excise had intercepted R18 material
coming into the UK and gone whingeing to the Home Office, where a shocked and horrified
Jack Straw had issued a personal edict that this filth must stop.
And the BBFC caved in completely. At no stage was I consulted about my titles, or
warned of what was going to happen, I only found out by accident!
I was offered the opportunity to cut the titles down to the standard prevailing before
the brief period of liberalisation: I saw the proposed cuts lists, one amounted to 26
minutes in a 49 minute film, cutting everything except brief shots of erections in
long-shot! Obviously not acceptable. In another glaring example of BBFC ineptitude and
inconsistency this proposed "old" standard was actually far tighter than the
real "old" standard. I have R18 product from 1996 to prove this!
Meanwhile the review period went on for two months, three months, four months. After
six months the Board relented and said we could enter for classification films which
showed erections in medium or long shot (gosh!), as long as the shots were not sustained
and there was no manipulation of the genitalia.
We were told the review was "nearly done," and another month passed, and
another and on the way the Board lost an Appeal on a heterosexual R18 video, but decided
that whilst it would grant a certificate for that film, it did not regard the Appeals
committee decision in anyway binding...
And finally in December 1998, 14 months after the initial review the Board says
"that's it boys, its all sorted oral sex and vaginal penetration are back."
I have it here, on the new cuts list issued on the three titles that the Board had been
sitting on since August 1997: "cuts list dated 3/11/97 is now waived and the
following cuts are required for an R18 certificate according to the new guidelines under
which close ups of genital stimulation are not allowed." The cuts listed then follow,
minor cuts of very close up scenes. I have three cuts lists to this effect, all with the
same wording dated 21 and 22 December 1998.
All well and good you might think.
January 1998, another phone call to the Board initiates the response, "actually we
are not looking at any R18 titles for a couple of months (sound familiar) whilst the new
Director reviews the situation."
This all getting a bit depressing. A series of faxes to Duval gradually uncover more
Firstly the review might take "some time," which is worse than a couple of
months, no they will not give any idea of time-scale, but I can have a cuts list done to
the "old" standard if I want one (which particular "old" standard
might this be...).
Then further revelations... a consultation process with the Home Office et al is now
necessary to check the content...
I thought this had happened over the last 14 months, and if it oral sex is not
acceptable why issue a cuts list on 21 and 22 December...and if it is not acceptable why
am I currently selling two titles (featuring oral sex) for another company which like mine
had been held up since 1997, but got certificates this month....presumably because they
were viewed on Tuesday rather than a Wednesday...
My impression of what has happened at the Board is that now Ferman has gone Straw and
his tame poodle Whitam-Smith have decided to crack the whip and rid this country of filth
for ever (well, at least the visible stuff that people might notice anyway). I have a
horrible feeling more of this kind of censorship as Straw's lust for power and control
grows ever stronger.