The Video Recordings Act was introduced to Britain in 1982, 4 years after the VCR were7. It meant that no film could be released for home viewing if it didn’t have a BBFC certificate. Many films which were already released at the time had to be recalled and some were taken off shelves.

Censorship on films in the UK is set by the BBFC (British Broad of Film Classification) (1). They censor film and TV for many different reasons, such as: religion (e.g. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (2) – 1980 to 2008 – Torbay, Devon), social (to protect the public from current affairs, e.g. The Good Son (3) – 1993 to 1994), sometimes homophobic (e.g. Glen or Glenda? (4) – 1958 to 1995), politics (e.g. Reservoir Dogs (5) – 1992 to 1995), sex, violence and gore (e.g. The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence (6) – 2011). There are some films that are illegal for obvious reasons like snuff films, but even porn breaks through with certificate R18.

Mainly the BBFC have to use laws, such as The Obscene Publications Acts (1959 and 1964) and the Protection of Children Act (1978) to decide whether films should be banned or have to be cut before release. Nowadays it is rare for a film to be completely banned as it goes against The Universal Right to Free Speech.

Censorship is different in every country. In fact for those of you who aren’t British and/or aren’t aware of British censorship guidelines, here they are:


** U **

Suitable for all. (1)

** PG **

 Parental Guidance. (1)

** 12A **

Cinema Release Suitable for 12 years and over. (1)

** 12 **

Video Release Suitable for 12 years and over. (1)

** 15 **

Suitable for 15 years and over. (1)

** 18 **

Suitable for Adults Only. (1)

** R18 **

 Adult Works for Licensed Premises Only. (1)

This blog will focus on violent films and video nasties that were/are banned in the UK.


  1. BBFC. (n.d.) What is Classification [online] Available from: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification[Accessed 30th April 2014].
  2. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) Directed by Terry Jones. UK, HandMade Films and Python (Monty) Pictures.
  3. The Good Son (1993) Directed by: Joseph Ruben. USA, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
  4. Glen or Glenda? (1953) Directed by: Edward D. Wood Jr. USA, Screen Classics(II).
  5. Reservoir Dogs (1992) Directed by: Quentin Tarantino. USA, Live Entertainment and Dog Eat Dog Productions Inc.
  6. The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence (2011) Directed by: Tom Six. USA, Six Entertainment Company.
  7. BBFC. (n.d.) The Videos Recordings Act. [online] Available from:http://www.bbfc.co.uk/education-resources/student-guide/legislation/video-recordings-act [Accessed 7th May 2014].

External References



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