Published: 28th September 2022

BBFC announces Natasha Kaplinsky OBE as new President

  • Patrick Swaffer to step down as BBFC President after an impressive ten-year tenure 

  • New President position to take effect from 17 October 2022

  • Appointment takes place ahead of the BBFC’s 110-year anniversary in November

Today, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has announced Natasha Kaplinsky OBE as its new President. The newsreader, presenter and journalist is a recognised figure in British public life and is passionate about issues affecting children’s rights and welfare. Natasha will take up the new position in October and will replace current President, Patrick Swaffer, who has held the post since 2012. 

As President of the BBFC, Natasha will be a member of the Board of Directors and will chair the Board of Classification, which meets monthly. The Board of Classification is responsible for overseeing all matters relating to classification, including the most complex and controversial of cases. 

The President also chairs the BBFC’s Advisory Council on Children’s Viewing (APCV), which was established in 1999 and which meets three times a year. The APCV advises the BBFC on issues concerning children and young people. Its members provide a wide range of skills and expertise connected with child welfare, and contribute to the development of BBFC policy.

The President brings a high-level approach and independence to difficult cases and policy issues. Working with a wide range of external stakeholders across Westminster, Whitehall and the media, Natasha will help to raise awareness of the trusted guidance that the BBFC delivers to UK families. She will also be championing its year-round Education and Outreach activity, and will be meeting with the BBFC Youth Panel in the coming months. 

Natasha will provide a sounding board to Chief Executive, David Austin, as the BBFC continues to adapt to deliver its core mission of helping everyone choose content that is right for them and avoid what's not. Natasha and David will work in close collaboration to uphold the positive culture of the organisation and promote staff engagement. 

Throughout her career, Natasha has held purposeful roles across public, private and non-profit sectors. With over 20 years of experience, Natasha has worked within both philanthropic and commercial businesses to support vulnerable people and communities around the world. She is skilled at working in tandem with national institutions as well as local charities, understanding the importance of strong partnerships to create an impact.

Amongst other pro-bono roles, Natasha is currently President of Barnardo’s and an Ambassador for Save the Children, travelling widely for the organisation. In December 2020, Natasha founded the UK Women’s Network, giving women and girls the opportunity to leverage their talents and resources. Natasha is also patron for a number of charities, including The Bevern Trust, a charity that cares for young adults with learning difficulties. 

Natasha has an extensive record of achievements, including being awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2017 Birthday Honours List for services to Holocaust Commemoration. In 2014, Natasha became a member of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, and in 2015, she was appointed by the Prime Minister to the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation advisory board. 

Natasha Kaplinsky OBE said: “I’m delighted to be joining the BBFC in October as the new President. The BBFC is accountable to the Government, Parliament, local authorities, and to people across the UK. It is clear that it takes its accountability seriously, alongside the impartial nature of its role. For over a century, the BBFC has done fantastic work to help families have a positive viewing experience, wherever and however they watch content. It’s crucial that children’s welfare is at the forefront of policy decision-making and this is central to the BBFC’s efforts in the Online Safety space. I am really excited to bring my knowledge and experience to help guide the BBFC in its 110th year and beyond. The challenges that young people face now in the UK are greater than ever before - and I am committed to giving voice to their needs. I can’t wait for the opportunities that this next chapter will bring.”

David Austin, Chief Executive said: “We are so pleased that Natasha has been appointed as our next President. She brings a wealth of expertise and a profound understanding of our core audience of parents, carers and families. With Natasha at the helm, I am looking forward to seeing how the business will continue to evolve to improve our offer to meet the needs of our industry partners and UK audiences. The influence, media insight, and vision that she will bring will really help to shape the future of the BBFC.” He added: “I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Patrick for his invaluable and long-lasting contributions across his ten years as President and the support he has given me as CEO.”

Patrick Swaffer, outgoing President said: “As I reflect on the last decade, I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved. The modernisation of the organisation, particularly with the introduction of our cloud-based compliance platform, Horizon, has enabled us to work more flexibly and effectively than ever before. Public trust in the BBFC remains extremely high and as a result we have seen our widely recognised age ratings extend beyond our statutory responsibilities; as encouraged by the Government in their response to the consultation on audience protection standards on VOD services. We now work with 29 online UK services to provide age ratings for content on a voluntary best practice basis, which is a remarkable achievement. As we look ahead, Natasha is the perfect candidate to lead the BBFC through what I'm sure will be yet another transformational phase fully supported by David and the excellent staff at the BBFC who have made my time as President such a pleasure.”

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