BBFC: British Board of Film Censors

The Creation of the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC)

The British Board of Film Censors (BBFC), now known as the British Board of Film Classification, was established to regulate the content of films shown in the United Kingdom. The BBFC sought to ensure that films met certain moral standards, protecting audiences from potentially harmful or offensive material.

  • Dates: The British Board of Film Censors was founded on January 1, 1913.
  • Details: The BBFC was established as a response to public concern about the potential impact of films on audiences, particularly young viewers. The board was initially a voluntary organization, with filmmakers submitting their work for review and classification. The BBFC would issue a certificate to films that met their standards, indicating they were suitable for public exhibition.
  • Trivial Facts: The first film to be classified by the BBFC was a short film called “The Kiss in the Tunnel,” which received a U (Universal) certificate. The first film to be banned by the BBFC was “The Last Edition” (1914), due to its depiction of a newspaper strike.
  • Effects on Pop Culture: The BBFC has had a lasting impact on British cinema and popular culture, as filmmakers often needed to change their work to receive a classification. This has led to discussions about censorship, artistic freedom, and the state’s role in regulating media. The BBFC’s classification system has also influenced other countries’ film rating systems, including the Motion Picture Association’s (MPA) system in the United States.
  • Prominent People: T.P. O’Connor, a prominent journalist and Member of Parliament, was the BBFC’s first president, serving from 1913 until he died in 1929. Alistair Sim, a British actor known for his roles in films such as “Scrooge” (1951) and “The Belles of St. Trinian’s” (1954), was the BBFC’s president from 1957 to 1960. David Cooke, who served as director of the BBFC from 2004 to 2016, was responsible for significant changes to the organization’s classification system and guidelines.
  • Countries Involved: The BBFC primarily operated within the United Kingdom but had international influence, particularly on the film rating systems of other countries, such as the United States.

The British Board of Film Censors, established in 1913, aimed to regulate film content in the United Kingdom by issuing certificates for films that met their moral standards. The BBFC’s actions have impacted British cinema and popular culture and influenced other countries’ film rating systems. Key figures associated with the BBFC include T.P. O’Connor, Alistair Sim, and David Cooke.