Who we are

The trusted go-to guide

At the BBFC, our focus is on helping children and families choose well by providing them with the guidance they need to help them choose what’s right for them and avoid what’s not.

With the huge growth in film, video and online content, and in how and where we can watch and use it, this is becoming more important than ever.

Through our experience, regular consultations and research, we are careful to reflect the views of people right across the country. We understand what matters to families and apply this knowledge in setting our standards.

We take the integrity and impartiality of our work very seriously and over the more than 100 years of our history, we have increasingly come to be recognised as the go-to guide that people can trust.

The structure of the BBFC and its management is designed to both reflect and reinforce this.

Our Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors is drawn from the cinema, television, video on demand (VoD) and media industries, and from the banking, accountancy and charity sectors.

The Board administers our financial affairs and is responsible for senior appointments at the BBFC, but plays no part in age rating decisions and policy making.

Its members are: Mel Alcock (Chair), Patrick SwafferDavid Austin, Lesley Mackenzie, John Aalbers, Gloria De Piero, and Claire Tavernier.  

Mel Alcock


Mel Alcock is an experienced Chairman & Executive Director drawing upon experience garnered at Fremantle, Disney, Sky, i-Crossing, and Curzon. Ex NED of Arts Alliance Media Ltd and Ex Chairman of the Rio Dalston. Management experience ranges from large multi-territory, matrix-based companies, as well as second-stage, high-growth companies. Managed P&Ls from £20m to £250m. Completed the 4 year re-build of Curzon. Managed the sale of digital agency i-Crossing to Goldman Sachs and the sale of Arts Alliance Media, a global SaaS company, to the Chinese entity Luxin Rio in Nov 2017. Currently Vice Chairman of Cement Fields, Mentor at Ascension Ventures.

Lesley Mackenzie

Board member

Lesley is an experienced CEO in traditional and digital media businesses including BSkyB, News Corp, Lovefilm and Amazon and ProSebienSat1. Experienced in start-up and turnarounds typically in ultra competitive markets with a focus on consumer facing services, content and technology. She now runs her own advisory company and works with key industry brands and regulatory bodies. Clients have been based in the UK, MENA, India, Germany, Malaysia, USA and Asia and include Kangaroo, Vue, mbc, GCAM, Hearst, Maxis, Marco and Deezer. She is a former member of Ofcom’s Content Board and is Deputy Chair of a Local TV network of channels.

John Aalbers

Board member

John Aalbers is a serial CEO with experience running and building technology companies in film/cinema, internet/telecommunications and music. His track record includes applying state of the art technology to build high growth start-ups as well as strategic business turnarounds. He built Arts Alliance Media into the clear market leader in cinema management software, before concluding the successful sale of the business in 2017. He is currently a Non-Executive Director and Advisor to numerous technology start-ups run by young and enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

Gloria De Piero

Board member

Gloria De Piero was a political journalist for 15 years working for the BBC and then ITV’s breakfast programme GMTV. She interviewed most senior politicians during that time including Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and David Cameron as Leader of the Opposition. She was elected as the Labour MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire in 2010 but did not stand for re-election in 2019. She spent most of her time as an MP on Labour’s front bench and Shadow Cabinet.

Claire Tavernier

Board member

Claire Tavernier has spent the last 20 years building and growing successful media and digital organisations in both the commercial and not-for-profit world. She has held senior leadership roles at Girl Effect, ChannelFlip and Fremantle among others and has won multiple awards for her work in the TV and digital space. Claire is the Chair of Sour Lemons, a diversity and inclusion charity in the arts and theatre sector. She is Non-Executive Director of Instrumental, a digital talent discovery tool that uses technology to identify star potential online, and Trustee of Charity Digital, which works on improving the use of technology and digital solutions in the not-for-profit sector.

The Board of Classification

The Board of Classification consists of the BBFC’s Chief Executive, the President and two Vice Presidents, and has statutory responsibility for classifying video content under the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA). Its members are appointed by the Board of Directors and the full Board is consulted on difficult decisions.

Patrick Swaffer

The President

The President is Patrick Swaffer, a former Senior and Managing Partner of Goodman Derrick solicitors. He is a Consultant to that firm, sits as a Recorder in the Crown Court and is a partner in Media Compliance Services LLP. Patrick had been the BBFC's legal adviser for many years, a role which he relinquished when he was appointed President.

Murphy Cobbing

Vice President

Murphy is a former BBC news and documentary producer of 20 years standing. She has also worked for the independent TV production company, Liberty Bell, and the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. She was born and raised in Gateshead and spent most of her career in journalism in the north east of England. Until recently, she was a trustee and Vice Chair of the Tyneside Cinema, the only purpose built newsreel theatre in the UK still operating, and also a trustee of the North East Circus Development Trust.

Lord Patel

Vice President

Lord Patel is a member of the House of Lords. He is a qualified social worker and in March 2018, was appointed Chair of Social Work England, the regulator for all child, family and adult social workers. He is a Senior Independent Director of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and was previously Chair of the Mental Health Act Commission, and a Commissioner of the Healthcare Commission and the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. He has also authored a number of national reports, including The Patel Report into Prison Drug Treatment.

David Austin

Chief Executive

Our Chief Executive is David Austin. He is responsible for making executive decisions on behalf of the Board of Classification, ensuring the execution of policy, management of the BBFC, and handling external relations with the industries and people we serve, as well as other relevant bodies. David joined the BBFC in 2003 as an Examiner after a career in the Diplomatic Service, serving in South Asia, Central Africa and the former Yugoslavia. In 2011, he became Assistant Director, Policy and Public Affairs, before becoming Chief Executive in March 2016. He is a member of the Board of the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA).

The Executive Leadership

The Executive Leadership team is empowered to make executive decisions in the Chief Executive's absence.

Dave Barrett

Deputy CEO

Our Deputy CEO is Dave Barrett. As well as deputising for the CEO in his absence, Dave is responsible for the management of all parts of the classifying process, focusing on the speed and effectiveness of the service, the quality of classifying decisions for BBFC customers, and on the most efficient performance management of the whole BBFC operation. He is also the advisor on business services to the Chief Executive. Dave became Deputy CEO in July 2019 after holding a number of BBFC posts including Chief Operating Officer.

Siobhan Smedley-Wild

Finance Director

Our Finance Director is Siobhan Smedley-Wild, who is responsible for ensuring that appropriate and effective financial controls and reporting are in place. Her remit covers the Finance, HR and Facilities departments. Siobhan joined the BBFC in April 2017. She is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and before joining the BBFC, was Finance Director at Take 2 Films and a Senior Financial Accountant at British Land Company plc.

Faye Harcourt

Director of Marketing and Outreach

Faye Harcourt is our Director of Marketing and Outreach and is responsible for all outwardly focused activity and reputational management of the BBFC brand. Her remit covers the marketing, communications, education and research departments. Prior to joining the BBFC, Faye held a number of senior marketing roles in the media industry, working for some of the worlds biggest entertainment companies including VICE, Viacom International Media Networks and NBCUniversal.

Other Principal Officers

Sarah Peacock

Compliance and Education Manager

Sarah Peacock is our Compliance and Education Manager, with day-to-day responsibility for the BBFC's education provision and managing a team of Compliance Officers whose main role is the classifying content submitted to the BBFC. Sarah joined the BBFC in 2014, working as a Compliance Officer and an Education Officer, before becoming Compliance Manager in 2018.

Chris Davies

Compliance Manager

Chris Davies is our Compliance Manager, managing a team of Compliance Officers whose main role is classifying content submitted to the BBFC. Chris joined the BBFC in 2014, working as a Compliance Officer and Senior Compliance Officer, before becoming Compliance Manager in 2020. He has a PhD in Film Studies.

Tom Cairns

Head of Business Services

Tom Cairns is our Head of Business Services. He is responsible for managing the BBFC’s continuing development of digital services for video on demand (VoD) platforms and other non-statutory uses of our ratings and compliance expertise. Tom joined the BBFC in 2010 and has more than a decade of experience of working with brands and content, including for the BBC, 3 Mobile, the FA Premier League, MTV, Universal Music and Sony Music.

Matthew Blakemore

Head of Product

Matthew Blakemore is our Head of Product. He is responsible for managing the BBFC's innovative product development, using the latest technology to address emerging classification requirements of our customers. He also represents the organisation as a member of both the British Standards Institute and International Standards Organisation Artificial Intelligence committees. Matthew joined the BBFC in 2018 and has more than a decade of experience turning concepts into successful products across multiple industries including transport, music, fashion, video conferencing, and corporate rewards.

Compliance Officers

Compliance Officers view content and recommend classifications, cuts and other actions, such as proof of age checks for performers. They carry out a range of tasks, including writing ratings info, data entry, and checking online platforms to ensure voluntary compliance with BBFC classifications. They tend to be graduates, but this is not always the case. No specific qualifications are required, however experience in relevant areas such as media regulation, law or child development is important.

Associated Bodies

The Advisory Panel on Children's Viewing (APCV)

The APCV was set up by the BBFC in 1999 to provide advice on issues relating to classifying content for children. The panel consists of members with a range of relevant professional expertise and responsibilities.

The Video Packaging Review Committee (VPRC)

Established in 1987, the VPRC is administered by the BBFC. It is a voluntary system, designed to prevent offence to members of the public caused by explicitly violent or sexual imagery being displayed in public places on the covers of videos and DVDs. It also checks that submitted video packaging complies with relevant legislation regarding the display of age ratings.

Cinema posters for films classified with an age rating of 18 are also reviewed by a joint BBFC-industry body.