The BBFC continues to be sensitive to the public's views about bad language.

It no longer relies upon a list of swear words simply rated by offence, but instead takes into account the strength, context and tone of the words used. The BBFC takes care to ensure that language does not exceed audience expectations at any age rating. More offensive terms are removed from junior ratings, while the strongest sexual expletives are restricted to the upper ratings and, where used aggressively, to 18.

The BBFC maintains Guidelines on language that reflect public attitudes on the issues:

  • U - 'Infrequent use only of very mild bad language'
  • PG - 'Mild bad language only'
  • 12A/12 - 'Moderate language is allowed. The use of strong language (for example, ‘fuck’) must be infrequent'
  • 15 - 'There may be frequent use of strong language (for example, ‘fuck’). The strongest terms (for example, ‘cunt’) may be acceptable if justified by the context. Aggressive or repeated use of the strongest language is unlikely to be acceptable'.
  • 18 - No constraints on language