Film censors to get tougher on violence and sex under tighter new age ratings

Under the new age ratings, classic films including Goldfinger and From Russia With Love could be reclassified from PG to 12A, ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson reports

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has released new classification guidelines for the first time in five years.

The updated guidelines, which are reviewed every five years, reflect shifts in public opinion and changing values of people across the UK.

Violent on-screen action and sex scenes are likely to be classified with higher age ratings.

The BBFC spoke to 12,000 people across the UK as part of the consultation into the changes.

What has changed?

The classification age brackets will remain the same as before, going from a U all the way to 18.

How films are classified will change, however, based on what people find acceptable for different ages to consume.

What areas are people most concerned about?

The research found people were most concerned about sexual violence on-screen.

Since the BBFC last carried out research in 2019 depictions of suicide and self-harm rose to the second biggest area of concern, with respondents saying they wanted to be warned about this type of content.

Respondents also said they wanted a more cautious approach to classifying sex scenes at 12A.

What are people less concerned about?

Since 2019, audiences have become more relaxed about cannabis use and solvent misuse.

The research revealed people are now more accepting of incidental cannabis misuse at 12A/12, so long as it is not detailed, glamorised or frequent.

In future, the BBFC will says it will take a less restrictive approach to such content.

What films could be reclassified?

Under the new age ratings, classic films including Goldfinger and From Russia With Love could be reclassified from PG (Parental Guidance) to 12A to reflect updated values.

Goldfinger from 1964 is being reclassified as 12A Credit: Prop Store/ PA

The Mitchells Vs the Machines (2021) was originally rated a U for mild violence, very mild threat, rude humour, and language. This may now be changed to a PG as focus groups said the violence was too intense and scary for very young viewers.

Recent release Bob Marley (2024), would have previously been categorised as a 15 under the previous BBFC guidelines, but under the new classifications would become a 12A.

This is because of the specific cultural and historic context of cannabis use in Jamaica in the 1960s and 70s. There is also a strong anti-violence message in the film

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