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Case studies

Welcome to the BBFC Case Studies. They are all written by BBFC staff and explore how and why works were rated, cut or even banned.

Please note that all our Case Studies and From The Archive files are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,) without prior written permission of the BBFC. You should email us if you wish to reproduce any of these materials.

The film Case Studies tell you why we did what we did and offer background information that you won’t find anywhere else. Find out why some films and BBFC decisions were discussed in the news media, what works were complained about, and which ratings were praised. You can also browse our From The Archive studies which showcase fascinating historical artefacts from our archives and listen to our popular Podcasts. 

Some like A Clockwork Orange are works you will definitely have heard of. Others like Freaks are lesser known but important films. And some are films like Juno and Fight Club that you might have seen but had no idea they caused a stir when submitted to the BBFC. We provide Case Studies for all films we introduce as part of our longstanding relationship with Film Education’s National Schools Film Week.  Though we no longer rate video games there are some video games case studies which should offer an historical view of how we treated some well-known video games.

We regularly update the Case Studies, and add new titles several times a year. We welcome suggestions for new Case Studies, but, as each one takes a while to research and write, we prioritise requests. You can email us to suggest a Case Study.

If you are researching a specific title and would like access to the BBFC's paper file archive this may be possible depending on the age of the work. You can request access to our archive in Education resources.


Natural Born Killers

Genre: Drama

Oliver Stones's violent satire on the media was first submitted to the BBFC in August 1994, against a backdrop of controversy over media effects that had built up in the wake of the murder of James Bulger in 1993. The version submitted to the BBFC had already been subjected to over three minutes...

No Orchids For Miss Blandish

Genre: Crime, Drama

No Orchids For Miss Blandish was originally a 1939 novel by James Hadley Chase that in 1942 was adapted into a stage play which ran in London. The narrative is set in Kansas City in 1936, where wealthy heiress Miss Blandish is attacked by a gang who want the diamonds she has received for her 21st...

Notes On A Scandal

Genre: Drama

Notes On A Scandal tells the story of a schoolteacher who has an affair with one of her pupils.  Her actions are discovered by an older female teacher who had befriended the younger woman and who uses her knowledge of this illicit affair for her own dubious ends.  The theme of the film was one of...