Film Classifications and Age Ratings (UK)

I decided to research the film classifications and age rating system of the UK and USA, so I could see the difference and how my short may be rated in each country. Here is my research into the UK’s rating system:

Age Ratings

According to the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification):

Classification U – Universal, Generally Suitable for All:
A classified U film should be suitable for children aged four and over, although this may depend on the child itself. Any horror, threat and violence is normally counterbalanced with scenes of a positive nature. It is unlikely that discrimination, illegal drugs, bad language, sexual content and anti-social behaviour would be displayed, unless it is highlighted that these actions or objects are bad. Nudity is occasional, as is threat and violence.

Classification PG – Parental Guidance:
A classified PG film should be suitable for children aged eight and over, parents are advised to accompany children when watching but can judge this for themselves in relation to their own children. Any horror, threat and violence is normally counterbalanced with scenes of a positive nature. It is unlikely that discrimination, illegal drugs, sexual content and anti-social behaviour would be displayed, unless it is highlighted that these actions or objects are bad. Nudity is occasional, as is threat and violence. Mild bad language and mild violence may be included. Generally, there will be no behaviour (such as use of weapons and violence) that children are likely to copy.

Classification 12 and Classification 12A – Suitable for 12 years and older:
Children under the age of 12 cannot see a 12A film in the cinema, unless they are accompanied by an adult. If a child is under 12, they cannot buy or rent a film rated 12. Discriminative language and/or actions are unlikely to be included in the film. The use of illegal drugs may be included but will not be glamourised. Dangerous behaviour will also not be glamourised, and is generally only used if it’s unlikely that a child would copy it. There may be nudity, however if it’s of a sexual nature, it will be brief and discreet. Any violent, threat and horror will be moderate; gore will only be used if justified. Moderate language is generally acceptable but will depend on the scene, character and frequency of use.

Classification 15 -Suitable for 15 years and older:
Children under the age of 15 cannot see a 15 film in the cinema, and cannot buy or rent a 15 film. Discriminative language and/or actions will generally not be included but there may be themes such as racism or homophobia. Drug use may be shown but will be shown in an overall negative light, in that it should not promote the use of illegal drugs. However, highly dangerous substances are less likely to be depicted on screen. Strong language is generally acceptable, and very strong language is sometimes used, depending on the person who says it, the situation(s) that is in the film that it’s used in and the frequency that it is used. Nudity in a non-sexual or educational is allowed, however it has to be less detailed if it is of a sexual nature; there may be strong references to sex, but the strongest wouldn’t be acceptable unless justified. Strong threat, horror and violence is generally excepted, unless of a sadistic or sexual nature (the depiction of violent sexual scenes is unlikely to be depicted but detailed verbal references may be included). Any violent will not dwell on the pain of the injuries, and the strongest gore imagery and strong sadism is unlikely to be unacceptable.

Classification 18 – Suitable for adults only:
No one under the age of 18 can see an 18 film in the cinema, and would not be able to buy or rent an 18 film. Unless the scenes breach criminal law or show exceptional levels of sexual or sadistical violence, horror and/or threat, there are no restrictions. Anything unethical, such as scenes that would harm public health or morals (including illegal drug use) may not be acceptable. Sex scenes containing clear images of real sex, strong fetish material, sexually explicit animated images, or other very strong sexual images will generally not be acceptable, but other sexual scenes for either education or arousal are acceptable.

Classification R18 – Suitable for adults only (only shown and found in specific cinemas and shops):
No one under the age of 18 can see an R18 film in the cinema, and would not be able to buy or rent an R18 film. These films can only be shown in specially licensed cinemas and can only be sold in specially licensed sex shops. R18 films depict explict works of consentual sex and strong fetish material (with adults). The material in these film cannot breach criminal law and the material will be judged before publication (Obscene Publications Act 1959). Content in films with this classification that is not acceptable includes; sexual abuse including lack of consent or role-playing of an underage person, pain and acts which cause a lasting physical affect whether it is real or simulated, any penetration from an object that would cause physical harm or is violent, non-consentual sexual threats, non-consentual humiliation and non-consentual abuse. Strong physical or verbal abuse (consentual or non-consentual is unlikely to be acceptable).

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One thought on “Film Classifications and Age Ratings (UK)

  1. Pingback: X: Film Classifications and Age Ratings | A2 Level Media Studies

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