Film ratings revamp: Stricter for kids, but weaker for teens

Films rated U will include less bad language, while movies aimed at teenagers over 15 will be “more flexible” on swearing than before, Britain’s film rating board has said.

Following a public consultation, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has issued new guidance which will come into force on 24 February 2014.

The large-scale research – which takes place every four to five years – found “the public wants the BBFC to be stricter with the language allowed at U and more flexible about allowing very strong language at 15”.


“Context, not just frequency, is the most important factor in how language in films is perceived by the public”, it says.

Over 10,000 people from around the UK were involved with the BBFC consultation during 2013, with some “particularly concerned about the sexualisation of girls, and pornography”.

The BBFC is currently working with Google and the body that represents the UK recorded music industry on a pilot project investigating rating online music videos.


The BBFC said its revised film guidelines “ensure that we continue to be in step with what the public wants and expects”.

But the Safermedia charity said parents and children are being “let down by a regulator who is no longer interested in regulating”.

And Philip Davies MP warned that the changes make “children think it’s perfectly normal and reasonable to use bad language”.

‘Video nasties’

This winter, The Wolf of Wall Street by Director Martin Scorsese, set a record for most instances of one strong swear word.

It reportedly contains 506 instances of the word – an average of 2.81 times every minute – which is more than any other non-documentary film.

Last year a remake of the contentious film The Evil Dead was released, and is being sold at supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda.

The original came out amidst concern surrounding ‘video nasties’ – films that were released on video to get around cinema ratings.


At the time the film was described as the “number one nasty” by media campaigner Mary Whitehouse, and given an X rating by the BBFC.

Later, in 2000, the Board rated it as an 18, claiming “standards had changed”.