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The British Board of Film Classification, before known as the British Board of Film Censors, was created by the film industry in 1912. It has changed a lot since then.

1912–1932[]

  • U: Passed for Universal Exhibition
  • A: Approved for Adult Audiences

Two advisory certificates.

1932–1951[]

  • U: Passed for Universal Exhibition
  • A: Passed for Public Exhibition to Adult Audiences
  • H: Passed as Horrific
    • Some councils prohibited the admission of those under 16 to H films.

Three non-compulsory certificates.

1951–1970[]

  • U: Passed for Universal Exhibition
  • A: Passed for Public Exhibition to Adult Audiences
    • Although not compulsory, councils allowed admission of children under 12 to A films only when accompanied by an adult.
  • X: Passed for Public Exhibition When No Children Under 16 are Present
    • First compulsory certificate.

1970–1982[]

  • U: Passed for Universal Exhibition (yellow title card)
  • A: Passed as Adult Supervision Recommended for Young Children (green title card)
    • Films rated "A" may not be suitable for children under eight years old.
  • AA: Passed as Adult Accompaniment Required for Children Under 14 (blue title card)
  • X: Passed as Extremely Graphic (red title card)
    • Age restriction of the X certificate modified from 16 to 18.

Four certificates.

1982–1985[]

  • U: Universal (suitable for all)
    • Now appears as a triangle with "U" in it.
  • PG: Parental guidance
    • Replaced the "A" certificate. Appears as a triangle with "PG" in it.
  • 15 (suitable only for persons 15 years and over)
    • Replaced the "AA" certificate. Age restriction modified from 14 to 15 years. Appears as a circle with "15" in it.
  • 18 (suitable only for persons 18 years and over)
    • Replaced the "X" certificate. Appears as a circle with "18" in it.
  • R18: Restricted 18 (adult works for licensed premises only)

1985–1989[]

The Video Recordings Act 1984 gave the BBFC the legal responsibility to rate all videos. The current certificates were all used and were also modified and coloured. A new Uc certificate was introduced for videos only to indicate a recording that is especially suitable for young children to watch on their own.

  • Uc: Universal Children (particularly suitable for children)
    • Only appears on video works.
  • U: Universal (suitable for all)
  • PG: Parental guidance
  • 15 (suitable only for persons 15 years and over)
  • 18 (suitable only for persons 18 years and over)
  • R18: Restricted 18 (adult works for licensed premises only)

1989–2002[]

Industry pressure regarding Batman has resulted in the introduction of a 12 certificate for cinema releases. The 12 certificate was later introduced into video releases five years later, in 1994.

  • Uc: Universal Children (particularly suitable for children; video only)
  • U: Universal (suitable for all)
  • PG: Parental guidance
  • 12 (suitable only for persons 12 years and over)
    • Introduced for cinema in 1989 and for video in 1994.
  • 15 (suitable only for persons 15 years and over)
  • 18 (suitable only for persons 18 years and over)
  • R18: Restricted 18 (adult works for licensed premises only)

2002–2019[]

The symbols were graphically modernised. Colours were retained. The Uc certificate was retired in 2009. The 12 certificate for cinema releases was replaced by 12A.

  • Uc: Universal Children (particularly suitable for children; video only and retired in 2009)
    • The substitute to the Uc certificate is BBFCInsight. BBFCInsight is noted for children under four years of age in the case of U-rated works and children under eight for PG-rated works.
  • U: Universal (suitable for all)
  • PG: Parental guidance
  • 12A/12 (suitable only for persons 12 years and over)
    • 12A replaced 12 for cinema in 2002. First cinema release to get the 12A is The Bourne Identity. Video works get the 12 certificate.
  • 15 (suitable only for persons 15 years and over)
  • 18 (suitable only for persons 18 years and over)
  • R18: Restricted 18 (adult works for licensed premises only)

2019–present[]

On October 2019, for the first time all of the symbols were redesigned for digital streaming services and theatrical releases. However, the packaged media continued to only use the previous symbols until late April 2020, although a transition period was allowed for video releases to use either the old or new symbols until 5 October 2020, after which all packaged media must by law use the new symbols. BBFCInsight was changed to "ratings info".

The symbols no longer have the BBFC logo pattern in the background. 12 is now coloured orange like 12A.

  • U: Universal (suitable for all)
  • PG: Parental guidance
  • 12A/12 (suitable only for persons 12 years and over)
    • The colouring of the certificates is no longer inconsistent.
  • 15 (suitable only for persons 15 years and over)
    • The text is no longer coloured red. The certificate is coloured pink with "15" in white.
  • 18 (suitable only for persons 18 years and over)
  • R18: Restricted 18 (adult works for licensed premises only)
British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)
BBFC U.svg BBFC PG.svg BBFC 12A.svg BBFC 12.svg BBFC 15.svg BBFC 18.svg BBFC R18.svg

Formerly used certificates: A | H | X | AA | Uc | PG-12

History of certificates | Video Recordings Act 1984 | Rejected works | Cut works

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