BBFC Classification

 Guidelines: 2000-2005

2000-2005   2005-2009   2009-2014   2014-present  


  BBFC definitions for bad language
Very Mild
damm, hell, God, sod
Mild
bloody, bastard, piss, pissed, shit, son-of-a-bitch, bugger, bollocks, screw, crap, arse, shag, slag, slut, whore, arsehole, tosser, Jesus, Christ
Moderate
wanker, prick, bitch
Strong
fuck
Coarse
stronger sexual swearwords are described as coarse

 

U cert

Universal

Suitable for all

Uc Universal

Particularly suitable for young children

PG cert

Parental Guidance

General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children

General Videos classified Uc are particularly suitable for pre-school children.

A 'U' film should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over. Works aimed at children should be set within a positive moral framework and should offer reassuring counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror.
 

Unaccompanied children of any age may watch. A 'PG' film should not disturb a child aged around eight or older. However, parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger or more sensitive children.
Theme
  • Treatment of problematic themes must be sensitive and appropriate to a younger audience
  • More serious issues may be featured, eg crime, domestic violence, racism (providing nothing in their treatment condones them).
Language
  • Infrequent use only of very mild bad language.
  • Mild bad language only
Nudity
  • Occasional natural nudity, with no sexual context.
  • Natural nudity with no sexual context.
Sex
  • Mild sexual behaviour (e.g., kissing) and references only (e.g., to 'making love').
  • Sex may be suggested, but should be discreet and infrequent.
  • There may be mild sexual innuendo.
Violence
  • Mild violence only.
  • Occasional mild threat or menace only.
  • Violence must be justified by the story, but more will be allowed in a historic setting or in a comedy or fantasy film.
  • There will be no emphasis on combat techniques or realistic weapons
Imitable Techniques
  • No emphasis on realistic weapons
  • No glamorisation of realistic, contemporary weapons. No detail of fighting or other dangerous techniques.
Horror
  • Horror effects should be mild and brief and should take account of the presence of very young viewers. The outcome should be reassuring.
  • Exciting horror scenes may be allowed in a fantasy context, but there will be no prolonged focus on gory images or suffering.
Drugs
  • No references to illegal drugs or drug use.
  • No references to illegal drugs or drug use unless entirely innocuous.

 

  12 c ert

Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over

15 cert

Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over

Theme
  • Mature themes are acceptable, but their treatment must be suitable for young teenagers.
  • No theme is prohibited, provided the treatment is appropriate to 15 year olds.
Language
  • The use of strong language (eg 'fuck') should be rare and must be justified by context.
  • There may be frequent use of strong language; the strongest terms (eg 'cunt') are only rarely acceptable.
  • Continued aggressive use of strong language and sexual abuse is unacceptable.
Nudity
  • Nudity is allowed
  • Nudity in a sexual context will be brief and discreet.
  • There are no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual or educational context.
Sex
  • Sexual activity may be implied.
  • Sexual references may reflect the familiarity of most adolescents today with sex education through school.
  • Sexual activity and nudity may be portrayed but without strong detail.
  • The depiction of casual sex should be handled responsibly.
  • There may be occasional strong verbal references to sexual behaviour.
Violence
  • Violence must not dwell on detail.
  • There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood.
  • Sexual violence may only be implied or briefly indicated and without physical detail.
  • Violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain, and of injuries.
  • Scenes of sexual violence must be discreet and brief.
Imitable Techniques
  • Dangerous techniques (examples include: combat, hanging, suicides) should contain no imitable detail.
  • Realistic and contemporary weapons should not be glamorised
  • Dangerous combat techniques such as ear claps, head-butts and blows to the neck are unlikely to be acceptable.
  • There may be no emphasis on the use of easily accessible lethal weapons (in particular, knives).
Horror
  • Sustained threat and menace is permitted. Occasional gory moments only.
  • Sustained or detailed infliction of pain or injury is unacceptable.
Drugs
  • Brief and occasional references to, and sight of, 'soft' drug-taking (eg cannabis) are allowed, but must be justified by context and should indicate the dangers.
  • No instructional elements are permitted.
  • Drug taking may be shown but clear instructive detail is unacceptable.
  • The film as a whole must not promote or encourage drug use.

 

  18 cert

Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over

General The BBFC respects the right of adults to chose their own entertainment, within the law. It will therefore expect to intervene only rarely in relation to '18' rated cinema films. In the case of videos, which are more accessible to younger viewers, intervention may be more frequent.

There are no constraints at this level on theme, language, nudity or horror. The Board may, however, cut or reject the following content
  • any detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts which is likely to promote the activity. This includes also instructive detail of illegal drug use
  • the more explicit images of sexual activity - unless they can be exceptionally justified by context
Sex Education
  • Where sex material genuinely seeks to inform and educate in matters such as human sexuality, safe sex and health, exceptions to the normal constraints on explicit images may be made in the public interest. Such explicit detail must be kept to the minimum necessary to illustrate the educational or instructional points being made.
Sex
  • Material which appears to be simulated is generally passed '18', while images of real sex are confined to the 'R18' category.

 

  R18 cert

To be supplied only in licensed sex shops to persons of not less than 18 years

Current guidelines

General The 'R18' category is a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit videos of consenting sex between adults. Such videos may be supplied to adults only in licensed sex shops. 'R18' videos may not be supplied by mail order.
Sex The following content is not acceptable:
  • any material which is in breach of the criminal law
  • material likely to encourage an interest in abusive
  • sexual activity (eg paedophilia, incest) which may include depictions involving adults role-playing as non-adults
  • the portrayal of any sexual activity, whether real or simulated, which involves lack of consent
  • the infliction of pain or physical harm, real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for mild consensual activity
  • any sexual threats or humiliation which do not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game
  • the use of any form of physical restraint which prevents participants from withdrawing consent, for example, ball gags
  • penetration by any object likely to cause actual harm or associated with violence
  • activity which is degrading or dehumanising (examples include the portrayal of bestiality, necrophilia, defecation, urolagnia)

The following content, subject to the above, may be permitted:

  • aroused genitalia
  • masturbation
  • oral-genital contact including kissing, licking and sucking
  • penetration by finger, penis, tongue, vibrator or dildo
  • non-harmful fetish material
  • group sexual activity
  • ejaculation and semen

These guidelines make no distinction between heterosexual and homosexual activity.

Enemas The Board's policy is that you can show enemas in 'R18' tapes. However, you must not see any faecal matter being emitted and the fluid from the enema must not be released onto (or into) another person. This position is based on the latest advice from the police and the CPS. Their position is, in turn, based on a number of recent cases in which enema tapes were found obscene by juries.
 
Video Titles In particular the BBFC have a chip on their shoulder about the word 'teen' in R18 titles.

The title of a work is likely to be seen by many members of the public who would never choose to watch the contents. It will be displayed on packaging and promotional material, and will appear on the BBFC's website database. The potential for offence is therefore significantly greater than for language which appears in the body of the work itself, which is encountered only by those who have chosen to view the work in question. The degree of offence likely to be caused will depend to some extent on how likely the public are to come across the title by accident.

In addition to considerations of 'offence', the BBFC is also concerned about titles which apparently promise illicit pleasures even though the material itself is neither harmful nor illegal. In future, therefore, the BBFC may ask for changes to a title of a work if it falls into one of the following three categories:

  1. It suggests that sexual participants may be under 18 or that illegal sexual activity (eg incest, rape) is being depicted. Words such as 'schoolgirl', 'scout', 'teenager', 'very young' and 'child' are unlikely to be acceptable if the title has sexual connotations unless the title as a whole makes it clear that the content is not concerned with the presentation of sex involving under-18s.
  2. It suggests that the content may be degrading, dehumanising or humiliating. Words such as 'bitch', 'whore' and 'slut' may be unacceptable if used in a context which appears to degrade women.
  3. It is likely to cause unusual offence to a significant proportion of those who are likely to come across it. The use of pornographic language in a title is unlikely to be acceptable at 18. Particularly crude or explicit titles are unlikely to be acceptable even at R18.

 

2000-2005   2005-2009   2009-2014   2014-present  

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