Cuts, Rejects and Appeals


In the event of intervention in a work by the BBFC...

Where possible, the BBFC deals with any issues raised in a submitted work through age rating at the appropriate category. In some cases, however, assurances, cuts or other changes (for example, the addition of warning captions) will be required as a condition of age rating, or as a condition of age rating at a particular category. In some circumstances a work may be rejected, ie refused an age rating at any category (see General Principles section of the BBFC's Guidelines). Details of interventions are published on this website.

If the submitted work is suitable for age rating, but only at a rating higher than that requested by the submitting company, the BBFC will consider whether a lower rating could be achieved through relatively minor or simple changes. If so, the BBFC may offer the submitting company a choice of accepting the higher rating or making defined changes to achieve a lower rating.

The decision to offer such ‘cuts for category’ is at the discretion of the BBFC and this option is unlikely to be available if the required changes would be extensive or complex, or if the effect of possible changes would be difficult to predict. In such circumstances, the submitting company may choose to make a new submission of a different version of the work at a later date.

Examples of 'cuts for category' include Pineapple Express which was cut to reduce a scene in which schoolboys are sold drugs by the protagonists to obtain a 15 rating instead of an 18; Welcome to the Jungle which was cut to reduce the volume and intensity of the violent action and weapon glamorisation and so obtain a 12A rating instead of a 15; and Lara Croft – Tomb Raider was cut to significantly reduce the sight of a flick knife and its glamorisation in order to obtain a 12 rating (this was before the introduction of 12A for films)

If a submitted work raises issues or concerns that cannot be addressed by rating at a particular category, cuts or other changes may be required as a condition of rating. Such intervention is most likely with regard to the following:

  • material which may promote illegal activity
  • material which is obscene or otherwise illegal
  • material created by means of the commission of a criminal offence
  • portrayals of children in a sexualised or abusive context
  • sexual violence or sexualised violence which endorses or eroticises the behaviour
  • sadistic violence or torture which invites the viewer to identify with the perpetrator in a  way which raises a risk of harm
  • graphic images of real injury,violence or death presented in a salacious or sensationalist manner which risks harm by encouraging callous or sadistic attitudes
  • sex works which contain material listed as unacceptable at ‘R18’.

When the issue relates to the circumstances of filming (for example, in relation to animal cruelty or public indecency), the submitting company will normally be given an opportunity to present evidence before a final decision is reached.

If a central concept of the work is unacceptable (for example, a sex work with a rape theme); or if intervention in the form of cuts or other means is not acceptable to the submitting company; or if the changes required would be extensive or complex; the work may be rejected, ie refused a classification at any category. Since cinema licences permit the option of a local certificate, film companies are free to submit their product to any local authority in the hope of a different outcome. A letter of rejection will be sent to the submitting company detailing reasons for the rejection.

The BBFC offers a formal ‘reconsideration’ procedure which is open to any distributor dissatisfied with the rating made in respect of their work. The reconsideration is free of charge and will normally take less than 10 working days. A distributor may also appeal directly to an independent authority. Such an appeal may take place following, or instead of, a request for reconsideration by the BBFC. In the case of films, the distributor (or any member of the public) may address itself to the local authority which licenses cinemas in a particular area. In the case of video works (including DVDs, video games, etc) a distributor may appeal to the Video Appeals Committee (VAC) which is independent of the BBFC. The most recent rulings were over The Last House on the Left (1972) in 2002 and the video game, Manhunt 2 in 2007.