I have no reason to doubt the BBFC on their judgement about the need for an age restriction. However the BBC have got their first and effectively decided that a PG or even a 12A is appropriate. The BBFC have opted for a 12 video certificate which
threatens to put shop keepers in prison for selling it to an under 12...for something that has been shown on early evening TV!
The BBFC should consider the gravity of enforcement options before stepping out of line with a high age restriction. I think they may have been better advised to go with the flow and award a PG. Perhaps the over exaggerated flack shows how well the
BBFC have done up to now to avoid such stories breaking out on previous occasions.
Based on an article from
In their many years of struggle against Doctor Who, the Daleks have never hesitated to use violence whenever possible. But when the tables are turned and someone is nasty to a Dalek it is time to draw the line, censors say. They have refused to let
young children buy a video or DVD of the Dalek episode from the latest Dr Who series because they say it contains ‘excessive cruelty’ to one of the metal monsters. The BBFC, which must give its approval before the programme can be released on film,
awarded a 12 certificate on the programme in view of the scenes which show a Dalek being tortured. The programme went out before 7pm, long before the adult watershed, but the Board said it sets a bad example to children because it suggests that using
brute force and cruelty is the only way to resolve a problem.
Speaking today John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, said: This is a rather puzzling judgement by the BBFC because the programme has already been shown by the BBC at an early evening slot when many under-12s will have been watching. No doubt the
whole series has been recorded by Dr Who fans and so any BBFC classification seems pointless however well meaning the Board’s judgement may be. It is a great pity that the Board does not apply the same rationale to other material, such as the
‘excessive cruelty’ in Natural Born Killers or Reservoir Dogs . [Hold on the BBFC do apply the same rationale, they feel that these films should be age restricted and so have awarded an appropriate restriction, in these cases
an 18 certificate]
Based on comment from The Times
Doctor Who’s latest enemies are, of course, the Censors. Inhabitants of a strange parallel universe known only as the BBFC, the Censors suffer from tragic myopia but wield immense power. They have ruled that the latest series of Doctor Who cannot be
shown to children under 12, when it comes out on DVD, because of the programme’s “excessive cruelty”.
The Censors specifically object to a scene broadcast last month in which the Doctor subjects an imprisoned Dalek to a bit of rough-house treatment. Taking a tough line with a species bent on mass murder and world annihilation is clearly too much for
the Censors, who are worried that the Time Lord’s behaviour may set an unhappy precedent. In the words of one of the Censors, “however cross one might be with a Dalek, being cruel is not the way to deal with the issue. Some children might take it
into the playground.”
It’s good to know that the BBFC are concerned that any Daleks who find their way through space and time into the nation’s playgrounds should not be unmercifully bullied. But leaving aside the important issue of just how the nation’s children should
react to the arrival of a Dalek during lunchbreak another ticklish question of space travel arises. Just what planet are these Censors on?
The BBFC professes itself “concerned at the use of violence to resolve problems” in a programme that children might see. Where have they been while the rest of us were growing up? Conflict is integral to drama, and those who construct narratives to
grip young minds have always known that. To imagine that our children can be turned into a nation of Fotherington-Thomases, tripping through the daisies and greeting the sky, is to indulge in a fantasy further removed from reality than any
Doctor Who script.
The truth about violence, whether in Doctor Who, Middle Earth or the Middle East, is that it is not morally wrong in itself. The real moral question is, do we allow the bad guys to profit by it?
It would be easy to dismiss the Censors’ judgment on Doctor Who as just another piece of bureaucratic foolishness from a body that has taken political correctness too far. But it is worth noting precisely because there are all too many examples in
our society of just such a phenomenon. What is really remarkable about the BBFC’s judgment is not how singular it is, but how typical of a prevailing attitude.
The Censors’ action over Doctor Who crystallises, in all its absurdity, key trends of our time. First, the judgment of a bureaucratic elite is held to be superior to that of informed individuals, so government appointees, not parents, decree what is
the correct way to bring up children.
Secondly, art, including drama, is forced to conform to external criteria of “worthiness”. Works that should be there primarily to entertain have to serve a socially useful function. Soaps have to communicate the right message on drugs or dating,
children’s drama has to promote an ideologically approved means of resolving disputes.
Thirdly, children themselves have to be brought up in an environment purged of danger, conflict, risk or jagged edges. There’s not much risk of them torturing any stray Daleks in our playgrounds when they’re not even allowed conkers. And while absurd
restrictions are put in place to protect their bodies, so now censorship is deployed to protect their minds.
Commentators on the Right are sometimes accused of over-reacting to the march of political correctness by jumping at every provocation. Why get worked up about a ruling on Doctor Who DVDs, after all? Especially when we already know that good parents
will already carefully police what their children see and bad parents won’t care, provided the kids aren’t screaming.
But it’s because some of us want to live in a country governed by a proper sense of proportion that we do react to every incursion of political correctness. We don’t want a society where access to entertainment and the upbringing of children are
subject to a thousand tiny, well-intentioned but ultimately infantilising interventions.
There are a host of traps and temptations for our children to which sensitive parents need to be alert, such as the way teenage magazines push forward sexual boundaries. But the answer to this, and many other dangers, lies in teaching children to
take responsibility for themselves and resist the fashionable flow. The best children’s authors realise that, and embody it in their heroes, from Charlie Bucket to Harry Potter. It’s a pity that wisdom is, in every sense, so alien to the Censors.