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   BBFC - British Cinema Film Censorship
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The role of the British Board of Film Censors, as
it was known in the Sixties,
was to vet films to ensure that they didn't contain unsuitable material for public viewing and, where passed, to classify them into various categories providing the cinema-goer with a guide as to what should be suitable for various different age groups.
Probably the most memorable screen signature was 'Harlech' - Lord Harlech who headed the organisation from 1965, dying in a car crash in 1985. The image shows the 'John Trevelyan' screen, (secretary:1958-1971) which preceded his.

Classifications in use in the Sixties were U, A and X but lots of others have also been used through the evolution of censorship since the system was originally introduced in 1912. The chronological list below gives all the official BBFC classifications ever used from which you can extract what would have been current for any given year you choose.

  U (Universal) 1912 to present. Films suitable for everyone.
  A (Adult) 1912 to 1982. Films which might contain material unsuitable for 'children'. From 1923 to 1970 children had to be accompanied by an adult. The A rating was superseded by the PG certificate in 1982.
  H (Horror) 1932 to 1951. A strange rating that was almost entirely restricted to that genre of film. It was purely advisory, but was used by many local authorities to restrict viewing to 16s or over.
  X This replaced the H certificate in 1951 and was the first BBFC rating that specifically excluded people under a certain age (16). This age restriction was raised to 18 in 1970.
  AA This rating was introduced in 1970, when the X rating was raised to 18, in order to provide an intermediate age rating by excluding people under the age of 14. This was replaced by the more specific 15 rating in 1982.
  PG (Parental Guidance) This was introduced in the sweeping changes of 1982, replacing the old A certificate. Although anyone could actually be admitted, PG-rated films contained an explicit warning that the film might contain material unsuitable for viewing by younger children.
  15 This replaced the AA certificate in 1982 when raising the age limit to 15.
  18 This replaced the X certificate in 1982, more specifically excluding people under the age of 18.
  12 This was introduced for cinema films in 1989 (and also video releases from 1994), stating that, while the film contained material deemed unsuitable for young children, were considered appropriate for 12s and upwards.
  12A This was introduced for cinema films in 2002, replacing the 12 certificate, allowing under 12s to watch the films if they were accompanied by a responsible adult.
  R18 This classification, introduced in 1982, was exclusively intended for videos that could only be sold in licensed sex shops.
  Uc Introduced in 1985, this rating indicates video releases which are deemed particularly suitable for pre-school children.


Other sites of related interest:


BFI screenonline: British Board of Film Classification

History of The British Board of Film Classification

The Invisible Junk Drawer
HTV - Harlech Television

Wikipedia - Lord Harlech

BFI screenonline - John Trevelyan


  
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