What does the 15 symbol mean?
No-one under 15 is allowed to see a 15 film at the cinema or buy/rent a ‘15 rated video. 15 rated works are not suitable for children under 15 years of age.
Are there any limits on what sort of theme a work can have at 15?
No theme is prohibited, provided the treatment is appropriate for 15 year olds.
What might I see in a 15 rated film or video?
Any of the following:
- strong violence
- frequent strong language (e.g. 'f***').
- portrayals of sexual activity
- strong verbal references to sex
- sexual nudity
- brief scenes of sexual violence or verbal references to sexual violence
- discriminatory language or behaviour
- drug taking
How much strong language is allowed in a 15?
There could potentially be a great deal. At 15 there is no upper limit on the number of uses of strong language (e.g. ‘f***’).
Occasionally there may be uses of the strongest terms (e.g. 'c***'), depending on the manner in which they are used, who is using the language, its frequency and any special contextual justification. However, continued or aggressive use will not normally be passed 15.
What about discriminatory or offensive terms?
There may be racist, homophobic or other discriminatory language, and the work could explore themes relating to this.
However, at 15 the work as a whole must not endorse discriminatory language or behaviour.
How much sex and nudity is allowed at 15?
At 15 sexual activity can be portrayed, but usually without strong detail. Some sex scenes can be quite long at this category.
Though nudity may be allowed in a sexual context there will usually be no strong detail. There are no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual or educational context.
There can be strong references to sex and sexual behaviour, but especially strong or crude references are unlikely to be acceptable unless justified by context.
Sex and sex references are treated the same irrespective of sexuality
Can there be strong violence?
Yes, at 15 violence may be strong. It should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury, however, and the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable.
Strong sadistic violence is also unlikely to be acceptable.
What about sexual violence?
There may be detailed verbal references to sexual violence (for example descriptions of rape or sexual assault in a courtroom scene or in victim testimony) but any portrayal depiction of sexual violence must be discreet and justified by context.
What about horror works?
At 15 there can be strong threat and horror as long as there is no sustained focus on sadistic or sexualised threat.
Can you see drugs in a 15 rated film or video?
At 15 drug taking may be shown but the work as a whole must not promote or encourage drug misuse (for example, through instructional detail).
The misuse of easily accessible and highly dangerous substances like aerosols or solvents is unlikely to be acceptable at 15.
What about dangerous behaviour or things teens might copy?
We consider the risk of potential harm to impressionable teenagers. For example, dangerous behaviour such as hanging, suicide and self-harming should not dwell on detail which could be copied.
Whether the depiction of easily accessible weapons is acceptable will depend on factors such as realism, context and setting.
How can I find out more about a specific 15 film?
Please check the BBFCinsight for the film or video you are thinking of watching. You may find BBFCinsight on this website or on our free App as well as on film posters, DVD and Blu-ray packaging, and on some listings. You will also find it attached to some film and video content which is available to download. It provides comprehensive information on exactly why a film or video has been given a particular category. All the issues are discussed in detail and parents in particular can use this information to make informed decisions when choosing viewing material for their children.
A guide to BBFCinsight is available here.
For the full text of the BBFC Guidelines at 15 please download the document below.