British Board of Film Classification

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Student guidelines

Here are the Guidelines for U, PG and 12A that BBFC Examiners use to help decide if a trailer can be rated at that category. Because trailers are unbidden, the Guidelines can be more strictly applied than they would be for feature films.

Universal – Suitable for all

It is impossible to predict what might upset any particular child. But a ‘U’ film should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over. ‘U’ films should be set within a positive moral framework and should offer reassuring counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror.

If a work is particularly suitable for a pre-school child to view alone, this will be indicated in the BBFCInsight.

  • Discrimination - No discriminatory language or behaviour unless clearly disapproved of.
  • Drugs - No references to illegal drugs or drug misuse unless they are infrequent and innocuous, or there is a clear educational purpose or anti-drug message suitable for young children
  • Horror - Scary sequences should be mild, brief and unlikely to cause undue anxiety to young children. The outcome should be reassuring.
  • Imitable behaviour - No potentially dangerous behaviour which young children are likely to copy. No emphasis on realistic or easily accessible weapons.
  • Language - Infrequent use only of very mild bad language.
  • Nudity - Occasional natural nudity, with no sexual context.
  • Sex - Mild sexual behaviour (for example, kissing) and references only (for example, to ‘making love’).
  • Theme - While problematic themes may be present, their treatment must be sensitive and appropriate for young children.
  • Violence - Mild violence only. Occasional mild threat or menace only.

 

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

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.

  • Discrimination - Discriminatory language or behaviour is unlikely to be acceptable unless clearly disapproved of or in an educational or historical context.  Discrimination by a character with which children can readily identify is unlikely to be acceptable.
  • Drugs - References to illegal drugs or drug misuse must be innocuous or carry a suitable anti-drug message.
  • Horror - Frightening sequences should not be prolonged or intense. Fantasy settings may be a mitigating factor.
  • Imitable behaviour - No detail of potentially dangerous behaviour which young children are likely to copy. No glamorisation of realistic or easily accessible weapons.
  • Language - Mild bad language only.
  • Nudity - Natural nudity, with no sexual context.
  • Sex - Sexual activity may be implied, but should be discreet and infrequent. Mild sex references and innuendo only.
  • Theme - Where more serious issues are featured (for example, domestic violence) nothing in their treatment should condone unacceptable behaviour.
  • Violence - Moderate violence, without detail, may be allowed, if justified by its context (for example, history, comedy or fantasy).

12 / 12A Suitable for 12 years and over

Exactly the same criteria are used to classify works at 12A and 12. These categories are awarded where the material is suitable, in general, only for those aged 12 and over. Works classified at these categories may upset children under 12 or contain material which many parents will find unsuitable for them.

The 12A category exists only for cinema films. No one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult, and films classified 12A are not recommended for a child below 12. An adult may take a younger child if, in their judgement, the film is suitable for that particular child. In such circumstances, responsibility for allowing a child under 12 to view lies with the accompanying adult.

The 12 category exists only for video works. No one younger than 12 may rent or buy a ‘12’ rated video work.

  • Discrimination - Discriminatory language or behaviour must not be endorsed by the work as a whole. Aggressive discriminatory language or behaviour is unlikely to be acceptable unless clearly condemned.
  • Drugs - Any misuse of drugs must be infrequent and should not be glamorised or give instructional detail.
  • Horror - Moderate physical and psychological threat may be permitted, provided disturbing sequences are not frequent or sustained.
  • Imitable behaviour - Dangerous behaviour (for example, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should not dwell on detail which could be copied, or appear pain or harm free.  Easily accessible weapons should not be glamorised.
  • Language - Moderate language is allowed. The use of strong language (for example, ‘fuck’) must be infrequent.
  • Nudity - Nudity is allowed, but in a sexual context must be brief and discreet.
  • Sex - Sexual activity may be briefly and discreetly portrayed. Sex references should not go beyond what is suitable for young teenagers. Frequent crude references are unlikely to be acceptable.
  • Theme - Mature themes are acceptable, but their treatment must be suitable for young teenagers.
  • Violence - Moderate violence is allowed but should not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood, but occasional gory moments may be permitted if justified by the context. Sexual violence may only be implied or briefly and discreetly indicated, and must have a strong contextual justification. Moderate violence, without detail, may be allowed, if justified by its context (for example, history, comedy or fantasy).

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