British Board of Film Classification

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Type of media Film

Approved Running time 118m 7s

Release date 07/01/2011

BBFCInsight Contains strong language in a speech therapy context

Genre(s) Drama

Director(s) Tom Hooper

Cast includes Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Eve Best

Cut This work was passed uncut.

BBFCinsight publication date 28/12/2010

Note: The following text may contain spoilers

THE KING'S SPEECH is a drama about King George VI and the Australian speech therapist who helped him overcome his stammer. It was classified '12A' for strong language in a speech therapy context.

The BBFC's Guidelines at '12A'/'12' state that 'The use of strong language (for example, 'fuck') must be infrequent'. THE KING'S SPEECH contains around 15 uses of strong language. However, all the examples of strong language occur during two isolated moments in which the King uses strong language at the instigation of his speech therapist. The strong language is not aggressive, sexual or directed at any other person. The uses also occur in rapid succession. In this unusual and very specific speech therapy context, it was concluded that the strong language was sufficiently infrequent, in terms of the film as a whole, to be permissible at '12A'.

The film also shows the Duke, and later King, smoking on a frequent basis. This is partly due to erroneous medical advice relating to his affliction. The smoking is not shown to be either glamorous or advisable.

Parents can find additional information about the content of this film if they visit


Momentum Theatrical
Classified date(s)
Main language
Submitted run time
118m 7s
Approved footage
BBFC reference
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This work was originally classified '15' without cuts on 15/10/2010.The BBFC has, after an appeal by the distributor of The King’s Speech against the original ‘15’ rating, applied its formal reconsideration process to the cinema release and classified it ‘12A’ with the Consumer Advice ‘Contains strong language in a speech therapy context’.The BBFC’s language Guidelines for ‘12A’ state: ‘The use of strong language (for example f***) must be infrequent’. In the case of The King’s Speech there are two isolated instances where the character of King George VI uses strong language several times at the instigation of his therapist during the speech therapy sessions he is undergoing to alleviate his stammer. The strong language is not aggressive and not directed at any person.The Guidelines state that ‘because works from time to time present issues in ways which cannot be anticipated, these criteria will not be applied in an over literal way if such an interpretation would lead to an outcome which would confound audience expectations’. After careful consideration by the President and Director of the BBFC, the Board took the view that the way the strong language is presented in The King’s Speech did not contravene the language Guidelines at ‘12A’ and that the public would understand why the Board has reached this decision.

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