What does U mean?
The U symbol stands for Universal. A U film should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over. However, it is impossible to predict what might upset a particular child, especially at this lower end of the category range.
What about works for children younger than four?
We rate films and videos aimed at very young viewers, such as Chuggington or Tinga Tinga Tales, U. However, we give them special BBFCinsight stating they are ‘particularly suitable for pre-school children’. Films or videos with this BBFCinsight should raise no significant issues in terms of discrimination, drugs,, imitable behaviour, language, nudity, sex, threat or violence.
Will there be any bad language in a U film?
At U we only allow infrequent use of very mild bad language (e.g. ‘damn’ and ‘hell’).
Might U works contain any sexual behaviour?
Characters may be seen kissing or cuddling and there may be references to sexual behaviour. However, there will be no overt focus on sexual behaviour, language or innuendo.
Sex and sex references are treated the same irrespective of sexuality so there could be mild or undetailed references at U.
Is violence or threat permitted in a U film?
Violence will generally be very mild. A U film may include brief fight scenes or moments where characters are placed in danger. However, moments of emotional stress or threat will be quickly resolved and the outcome will be reassuring.
There may be brief scary scenes and moments where the characters are placed in danger. As with violence, however, these scenes will be balanced by reassuring elements, such as comic interludes or music.
‘Baddie’ characters may carry or use weapons, but there will be no emphasis on these. Child or ‘hero’ characters are unlikely to use any kind of weapon outside, for example, historical settings.
What about behaviour which children might copy?
Potentially dangerous or anti-social behaviour which young children may copy, must be clearly disapproved of.
What sorts of films are usually passed at U?
A U film can explore a wide range of themes, as long as the treatment is appropriate for a young audience. This doesn’t mean that all films rated U are children’s films.
A children’s work at U will generally contain positive messages about loyalty, honesty and friendship, particularly amongst children. The film or video may well have a happy ending for the child and the overall tone should be one of reassurance.
U films are unlikely to contain discriminatory language or behaviour unless it is clearly disapproved of.
Will there be references to drugs?
At U there will not normally be references to illegal drugs or drugs misuse unless there is a very clear anti-drugs or educational message which will be understood by a younger audience.
Drugs references which are unlikely to register with young children and are brief or passing may occasionally be passed at U – for example a verbal reference to ‘the Opium wars’ in an historical documentary.
How can I find out more about a specific U 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 U please download the document below.