Melon Farmers Original Version

BBFC Classification

Guidelines: 2014 to 2018

 2000-2005   2005-2009   2009-2014   2014-2018   2019-present 

  All Categories

See Full BBFC Guidelines 2014 [pdf] from


A selection of the general points that the BBFC have emphasised as changes for the 2014 guidelines. The BBFC made a particular point of announcing that theme and tone would player a large part in classification decisions. The BBFC stated:

Specific changes to the 2014 Classification Guidelines as a result of the public consultation include:

  • Greater weight will be given to the theme and tone of a film or video, particularly around the 12A/12 and 15 level;
  • Particular attention will be given to the psychological impact of horror, as well as strong visual detail such as gore;

The BBFC also made a few points about sexualisation and music videos:

A specific issue highlighted by the consultation is in relation to sexual content, where the public is particularly concerned about the sexualisation of girls, and pornography. The content of music videos and the ease of accessibility of online porn are special worries.

Parents are also concerned about risks to vulnerable adolescents including self-harm, suicide, drug misuse and premature access to sexual content, including what some describe as the normalisation in films and videos of behaviours which parents consider inappropriate.

The following guidelines for 2014 have been annotated in red to show the new additions or changes for 2014


Classification decisions will take into account the theme of a work, but will depend significantly on the treatment of that theme, and especially the sensitivity of its presentation. The most challenging themes (for example, drug misuse, sexual violence, paedophilia, racial hatred or violence) are unlikely to be appropriate at the most junior levels of classification. However, there is no reason in principle why most themes, however difficult, could not be presented in a manner which allows classification at 18 or even, where suitable, at lower levels.


Tone and Impact

The overall tone of a work may also affect the classification decision. While the presentation of specific issues, such as sex and violence, may not be problematic at a particular category, a work with a dark or unsettling tone may receive a higher classification. Other tonal considerations which might have an influence on classification include the extent to which the work presents a despairing view of the world or the extent to which transgressive or harmful behaviour is condoned or made to appear normal.

We take into account the impact of a work (i.e. how it makes the audience feel), for example in relation to horror films where threat may be more significant than the level of violence.


Where films are targeted at a younger audience, classification decisions will take into account factors such as the frequency, length and detail of scary or otherwise unsettling scenes as well as factors such as the impact of music and sound, and whether there is a swift and reassuring outcome.

The classification of threat and horror will take account of the general tone, impact, realism and supernatural elements of a work as well as the level of detail in individual scenes. Fantasy settings may be a mitigating factor.

Music Videos

The classification of a music video will take account of any elements which are of concern to parents, including glamorisation of behaviour which they consider inappropriate. Where music videos are short and self-contained, material may be less likely to be justified by context.



U cert


Suitable for all

PG cert

Parental Guidance

General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children


A U film should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over, although it is impossible to predict what might upset any particular child. U films should be set within a positive framework and should offer reassuring counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror.

If a work is particularly suitable for pre-school children, this will be indicated in the BBFCinsight.

Unaccompanied children of any age may watch. A ‘PG’ film should not disturb a child aged around eight or older. However, parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger or more sensitive children.

  • Discriminatory language or behaviour is unlikely to be acceptable unless clearly disapproved of.
An educational or historical exclusion was added for the 2014 guidelines:.
  • Discriminatory language or behaviour is unlikely to be acceptable unless clearly disapproved of, or in an educational or historical context, or in a particularly dated work with no likely appeal to children.
  • Discrimination by a character with whom children can readily identify is unlikely to be acceptable.
  • No references to illegal drugs or drug misuse unless they are infrequent and innocuous, or there is a clear educational purpose or anti-drug message suitable for young children.
  • References to illegal drugs or drug misuse must be innocuous or carry a suitable anti-drug message.
Imitable Behaviour Reference to anti-social behaviour added for 2014 rules
  • Potentially dangerous or anti-social behaviour which young children may copy must be clearly disapproved of.
  • No emphasis on realistic or easily accessible weapons
Reference to anti-social behaviour added for 2014 rules
  • No detail of potentially dangerous behaviour which young children are likely to copy, if that behaviour is presented as safe or fun.
  • No glamorisation of realistic or easily accessible weapons such as knives.
  • No focus on anti-social behaviour which young children are likely to copy.
Language Although the BBFC made a point of saying that strong language would be tightened up in the lower categories there were no changes to the U category language clause
  • Infrequent use only of very mild bad language.

Update: June 2021. See article from . The BBFC listed words appropriate to U:

'damn', 'hell', 'God', 'Jesus Christ'. We know that some people find these words particularly offensive, but our research shows us that the majority of parents are comfortable with their children hearing them in U rated films.

'butt', 'jerk'.

And, depending on the context, you may also hear the word 'screw' if it is used instead of 'messed up', eg. 'I screwed up'.

The BBFC added a note about the repeated use of mild bad language for  the 2014 rules:
  • Mild bad language only.
  • Aggressive or very frequent use of mild bad language may result in a work being passed at a higher category

Update: June 2021. See article from . The BBFC listed words appropriate to PG:

At PG, we only allow mild bad language. If words are used in an aggressive or very frequent way, then this might result in the content being rated higher.

'bloody', 'bugger', 'son of a bitch', 'shit', 'arsehole', 'bastard',

'bollocks', 'piss', 'crap', 'arse', 'ass', 'sod', 'git', 'arse'.

  • Occasional natural nudity, with no sexual context.
  • There may be nudity with no sexual context.
  • Only very mild sexual behaviour (for example, kissing) and references to such behaviour.
  • Sexual activity may be implied, but should be discreet and infrequent.
  • Mild sex references and innuendo only
Threat Reference to unsettling sequences added for 2014 rules
  • Scary or potentially unsettling sequences should be mild, brief and unlikely to cause undue anxiety to young children. The outcome should be reassuring.
  • Frightening sequences or situations where characters are in danger should not be prolonged or intense.
  • Fantasy settings may be a mitigating factor.
Violence Mild violence only in 2009, very mild violence only in 2014
  • Violence will generally be very mild.
  • Mild violence may be acceptable if it is justified by context (for example, comedic, animated, wholly unrealistic).
  • Violence will usually be mild.
  • However there may be moderate violence, without detail, if justified by its context (for example, history, comedy or fantasy).


  12 cert

Suitable for 12 years and over.
No-one younger than 12 may rent or buy a ‘12’ rated video or DVD. Responsibility for allowing under-12s to view lies with the accompanying or supervising adult.

12A cert

Suitable for 12 years and over.
No-one younger than 12 may see a ‘12A’ film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult.

15 cert

No-one younger than 15 may see a ‘15’ film in a cinema. No-one younger than 15 may rent or buy a ‘15’ rated video or DVD.

  • Discriminatory language or behaviour must not be endorsed by the work as a whole.
  • Aggressive discriminatory language or behaviour is unlikely to be acceptable unless clearly condemned.
An extra line of clarification of what previously was implicit.
  • The work as a whole must not endorse discriminatory language or behaviour, although there may be racist, homophobic or other discriminatory themes and language.
  • Misuse of drugs must be infrequent and should not be glamorised or give instructional detail.
  • Drug taking may be shown but the work as a whole must not promote or encourage drug misuse (for example, through instructional detail).
  • The misuse of easily accessible and highly dangerous substances (for example, aerosols or solvents) is unlikely to be acceptable.
Imitable Behaviour The PC ban on endorsing anti-social behaviour first appeared in the 2014 version of the rules
  • No promotion of potentially dangerous behaviour which children are likely to copy.
  • No glamorisation of realistic or easily accessible weapons such as knives.
  • No endorsement of anti-social behaviour.
2009 guidelines simply said that "Easily accessible weapons should not be glamourised". From 2014 the depiction of such weapons is left to the discretion of the BBFC
  • Dangerous behaviour (for example, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should not dwell on detail which could be copied.
  • Whether the depiction of easily accessible weapons is acceptable will depend on factors such as realism, context and setting.
Language Previously the guidelines suggested that strong language should be allowed if infrequent (interpreted as 4 uses in a typical film). From 2014, this is more flexible and up to the censors.
  • There may be moderate language.
  • Strong language may be permitted, depending on the manner in which it is used, who is using the language, its frequency within the work as a whole and any special contextual justification

Update: June 2021. See article from . The BBFC listed words appropriate to 12/12A:

Prick, wanker, twat, bitch, whore, slag, slut, cock,

Depending on context, frequency, and tone: fuck'

2009 guidelines disallowed very strong language (ie 'cunt') if repeated or aggressive. Following the usual pattern, from 2014 this is left to discretion of the examiners. Accompanying press releases indicate that the BBFC will now allow repeated, or aggressive, very strong language if contextually justified 
  • There may be strong language.
  • Very strong language may be permitted, depending on the manner in which it is used, who is using the language, its frequency within the work as a whole and any special contextual justification.
  • There may be nudity, but in a sexual context it must be brief and discreet.


2014 rules now sometimes allow nudity with strong detail.
  • There are no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual or educational context. There may be nudity in a sexual context but usually without strong detail.
  • Sexual activity may be briefly and discreetly portrayed.
  • Moderate sex references are permitted, but frequent crude references are unlikely to be acceptable.
  • Sexual activity may be portrayed, but usually without strong detail.
  • There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour, but the strongest references are unlikely to be acceptable unless justified by context.
  • Works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation are unlikely to be acceptable.
Threat The 2004 rules add the restriction that the overall tone should not be disturbing
  • There may be moderate physical and psychological threat and horror sequences.
  • Although some scenes may be disturbing, the overall tone should not be.
  • Horror sequences should not be frequent or sustained
  • There may be strong threat and horror.
  • A sustained focus on sadistic or sexual threat is unlikely to be acceptable.
  • There may be moderate violence but it should not dwell on detail.
  • There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood, but occasional gory moments may be permitted if justified by the context.
  • Sexual violence may only be implied or briefly and discreetly indicated, and its depiction must be justified by context.
  • Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury.
  • The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable.
  • Strong sadistic violence is also unlikely to be acceptable.
  • There may be detailed verbal references to sexual violence but the depiction of sexual violence must be discreet and justified by context.


  18 cert

No-one younger than 18 may see an ‘18’ film in a cinema. No-one younger than 18 may rent or buy an ‘18’ rated video.

Adults should be free to choose their own entertainment. Exceptions are most likely in the following areas:
  • where the material is in breach of the criminal law, or has been created through the commission of a criminal offence
  • where material or treatment appears to us to risk harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society. For example, the detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug use, which may cause harm to public health or morals. This may include portrayals of sadistic or sexual violence which make this violence look appealing; reinforce the suggestion that victims enjoy sexual violence; or which invite viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities
  • where there are more explicit images of sexual activity in the context of a sex work (see below) or where the primary purpose of the images in question is sexual arousal

In the case of video works, which may be more accessible to younger viewers, intervention may be more frequent than for cinema films.

Sex Education
  • Where sex material genuinely seeks to inform and educate in matters such as human sexuality or safer sex and health, explicit images of sexual activity may be permitted.
  • Sex works are works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation. Sex works containing only material which may be simulated are generally passed 18. Sex works containing clear images of real sex, strong fetish material, sexually explicit animated images, or other very strong sexual images will be confined to the R18 category. Material which is unacceptable in a sex work at R18 is also unacceptable in a sex work at 18


  R18 cert

Published R18 Guidelines

To be supplied only in licensed sex shops to persons of not less than 18 years

See also unpublished, but more detailed R18 Guidelines as presented to producers in November 2014



The 'R18' category is a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit videos with clear views of real sex between consenting adults. Such videos may be supplied to adults only in licensed sex shops. 'R18' videos may not be supplied by mail order.


The 2014 guidelines seem to allow a little more BDSM previously only 'mild' activity was now allowed, from 2014 moderate activity is allowed. The following is a list of prohibited material:

  • material which is in breach of the criminal law, including material judged to be obscene under the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959
  • material (including dialogue) likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity which may include adults role-playing as non-adults
  • the portrayal of sexual activity which involves real or apparent lack of consent. Any form of physical restraint which prevents participants from indicating a withdrawal of consent
  • the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for moderate , non-abusive, consensual activity
  • penetration by any object associated with violence or likely to cause physical harm
  • sexual threats, humiliation or abuse which do not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game.
  • Strong physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to be acceptable

These Guidelines will be applied to the same standard regardless of sexual orientation of the activity portrayed

[Melon Farmers' comment: The BBFC previously confirmed that the following content was acceptable. They now hold that it is sufficient to say that "clear views of real sex between consenting adults" are acceptable and have removed the following list from their guidelines. The Melon Farmers' believe that it is still useful to readers to continue to publish the list of acceptable content

The following content, subject to the above, may be permitted:

  • aroused genitalia
  • masturbation
  • oral-genital contact including kissing, licking and sucking
  • penetration by finger, penis, tongue, vibrator or dildo
  • non-harmful fetish material
  • group sexual activity
  • ejaculation and semen]


  R18 cert

R18 Guidelines as presented to producers in November 2014 .

A BBFC/ATVOD seminar was held just before the guidelines were extended to internet Video on Demand published on UK websites. The BBFC presented their current guidelines as outlined below

The guidelines have been produced from notes created by producer Nikki Whiplash and published in an article from


  • Fairly brief = less than a minute
  • Isolated = not more than a couple of occurrences in a scene.
Watersports and Squirting

Peeing and squirting are acceptable if not performed onto another person and/or then consumed.

Squirting during sex or masturbation is acceptable if fairly brief, isolated and not deliberately consumed or put onto a body. It would be acceptable to imply that it was licked up if could be deemed as to be simulated.


Fisting is not acceptable. Penetration with all five digits beyond last knuckle is not acceptable; but all five digits of two or more hands would be acceptable as long as not past last knuckle.
Ofcom have sought medical guidance on fisting and don't believe it to be a dangerous act to perform. However, as the CPS' Guidelines specifically cite fisting as obscene the BBFC can't pass fisting for classification. The BBFC acknowledge that they are well aware of the decision in R v Peacock but are obliged to have regard to CPS' OPA Guidelines.

Amputee Insertion

Since the BBFC haven't ever needed to consider amputee insertion, they reserve their position on the matter.


Enemas are acceptable if once they are squirted out they don't hit anyone else and does not contain feces. It is not acceptable to subsequently lick up what has been expelled; unless this is simulated (for example switched for another substance).


Catheterisation is acceptable, even if catheter connected to mouth; presuming that the tube is not transparent so that the liquid moving through cannot be seen.

Eating ejaculate

Any form of consumption of (male) ejaculate is acceptable.


Vomiting may be acceptable if it is not performed as part of a sexual act; and is not visibly enjoyed by the participants.

'Public' Sex

Should the content features any nudity or other activity which might outrage the public decency, then the BBFC must be assured that the material in question was shot on private land with no public access or shot abroad. However, simulating the impression that it is in public is acceptable, fir example a vehicle with tinted windows. The key consideration that the material has not been created in the public eye.

'Age Play'

Anything which might 'encourage' incest or sex with children under the age of eighteen is absolutely unacceptable.
However school uniforms are acceptable presuming that there are no references to the performer pretending to be under eighteen; and participants clearly 'of legal age' and participating in a consensual adult role play


Sexual activities performed at gunpoint are unacceptable if it is "believable". This will depend on tone and believability. Basically if it looks like it could be a non-consensual activity then it is not acceptable.

Bondage and Restraint

Full bondage in conjunction with a gag is unacceptable, since there needs to be an obvious (to the viewer) means to signal to stop. Hence it is acceptable if not all four limbs are tied. Thus a means to indicate the withdrawal of consent must be visible to the viewer. For example full bondage and gagging would be acceptable if there is a safe signal which is defined as part of the scene.
Thus elements like artistic license, storyline and context become important. Hence a straightforward bondage scenario with no surrounding context is less likely to be acceptable than something with features a clearly signaled role play component.

BDSM Pain play

Acts which if copied by the uninitiated have the potential to cause injuries more than transient and trifling are extremely unlikely to be acceptable.
Only "moderate" pain play is acceptable. Thus reddening of the skin acceptable but no raised welts, blood and bruising are not.


Needles are more likely to be considered acceptable as they only cause transient and trifling injury similar to legal tattooing.

Facesitting as Breathing Restriction

Facesitting employed as a breathing restriction or any other form of smothering is unacceptable. However, facesitting without breathing restriction is acceptable. There is no flexibility on this. The airways must remain open. Apparently the rationale for this distinction is that men trying this at home might die.


Ballbusting may be acceptable, depending on the level. OFCOM recommend submitting clips in question for review. It will come down to definition of moderate pain and whether viewers at home are likely to sustain serious injury if they try it at home. Hence ball-yanking is not acceptable; whereas controlled ball stretching is acceptable.


This will depend on the surface upon which the person is being trampled on.

Urethral Sounds

The insertion of urethral sounds is acceptable presuming that they are not inserted so far in as to enter the bladder; and that appropriate sterile and safety considerations are taken such as the use of lubricant and gloves.

Insertion of objects like buttplugs

The insertion of other objects is acceptable presuming that it is clear that they couldn't get stuck. Hence the use of buttplugs is acceptable. Hence a clip of a mobile phone vanishing up an anus would not be acceptable, despite being a spoof, on the basis that people might try it at home.

Power Tools

The use of power tools is unacceptable, since most people have one lying around at home. However purpose designed "fucking-machines" are acceptable. The test in question is the 'association with violence'.


Head-scissoring is acceptable, presuming that it is gentle. However, if it is seen to be pushing on the carotid restricting blood flow then it is not acceptable. Hence, choking sounds or reddening of face as a result are not acceptable. As soon as any pressure is exerted it would be considered a choke hold and therefore not acceptable.


Wrestling is acceptable only if knockout moves are not deployed. Facesitting and seemingly non gentle scissoring are not acceptable.


Gagging on cock and deep throat are acceptable if not for the whole scene. However, language of the 'gag on my cock' variety is unacceptable due to the reference to choking.


  R18 cert

R18 supplemental

The following BBFC policies have been noted from the BBFC's explanatory emails dating from the last few years.
These are not published as specific guidelines for 2014

The Board's policy is that you can show enemas in 'R18' tapes. However, you must not see any faecal matter being emitted and the fluid from the enema must not be released onto (or into) another person. This position is based on the latest advice from the police and the CPS. Their position is, in turn, based on a number of recent cases in which enema tapes were found obscene by juries.

Urination is permissible in at least R18 sex works but only when it is shown separately to any sex scenes. The BBFC describe urination in sex scenes as urolagnia and routinely cut it out.

Hobosoup adds that:

Sex, Wives & Videotape by Viv Thomas in 2003. Includes a scene of a man and woman in a bathtub, the woman stands over man and urinates onto his face and into his mouth.

If I remember correctly the BBFC said it was a mistake and once given the certificate it couldn't be revoked.

Ian G comments:

I was going to mention the pissing scene in Taxi Zum Klo . Of course, that's 'different', its not a "sex work" so it doesn't get cut like R18.

Female Ejaculation

The BBFC responded to research on female ejaculation submitted to the BBFC by Feminists Against Censorship:

If I may clarify our position, the Board does not in fact take any view on whether or not female ejaculation exists. As you admit in your letter this is a controversial and much-debated area with a range of views being taken amongst medical professionals. At the most basic level, however, the Board is content that the pornographic tapes so far presented to us as examples of 'female ejaculation' are in fact nothing other than straightforward scenes of urination masquerading as 'female ejaculation'. This has been confirmed by a female sexual health expert who the Board has consulted on a range of issues relating to videos intended for the 'R18' category.

Quite the opposite of attempting to confront the issue of female ejaculation in a reassuring, sympathetic or informative light, the tapes in question appear to be nothing more than a cynical attempt on the part of porn distributors to get around the constraints imposed on urolagnia in sex tapes by the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act. It is worth noting that the kind of material that the Board has been cutting is regularly sold as 'urolagnia' in other European countries (France, Germany, Netherlands, etc) where there is no equivalent legal restriction on the use of urine in sex videos. Indeed, although videos featuring urolagnia are very much in evidence on the continent, videos purporting to show 'female ejaculation' seem to be invisible. Perhaps female ejaculation is less exciting (or profitable) to pornographers and their viewers than urination? Generally speaking sex videos of the type encountered at 'R18' neither seek to inform nor educate about female (or male) sexuality but merely offer graphic (and grossly distorted) views of sex for the arousal of viewers. Indeed, as you acknowledge in your letter "much of the material [the Board] passes with an 'R18' certificate does not necessarily represent the sexual experiences of all women".

To conclude, the Board remains open minded about the issue of female ejaculation but we have yet to be presented with any pornographic video that has convinced us - or our medical advisor - that it consists of anything other than an excuse to display scenes of urolagnia. Such scenes are regularly found obscene by juries in the UK and therefore cannot be classified.

Women Love Porn

8th October 2009. See article from

Female porn film-maker Anna Span announced triumphantly to the world that she had won a historic victory with the passing for viewing in the UK of her DVD, Women Love Porn which includes a woman clearly ejaculating .

This, she claimed, was as a result of scientific evidence that she had presented to the BBFC to the effect that female ejaculation is a real phenomenon - and wholly different in form and origin from urination.

This distinction is important, as according to the BBFC, depiction of urination in a sexual context (also known as urolagnia) is illegal under UK obscenity law - and they will not pass films for viewing that contain such material.

So the obvious conclusion must be: the BBFC now recognise female ejaculation.

Not so, according to a spokeswoman for the BBFC. She explained: In this particular work, there was so little focus on urolagnia, that the BBFC took legal advice and the advice was that taking the work as a whole there was no realistic prospect of a successful prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act and therefore the BBFC passed the work. However, were the focus on urolagnia to be more significant in other works, they would require cuts.

Annual Report 2009

25th July 2010

The BBFC stated their position in the 2009 Annual Report:

In consultation with enforcement agencies and in order to ensure intervention is consistent with current interpretation of the legislation, the BBFC may pass brief and isolated examples of limited sexualised urination , so long as there are no harm concerns under the VRA and only in certain contexts where there is no realistic prospect of successful prosecution under the OPA.

The BBFC updated their current position in the 2010 Annual Report:

In consultation with enforcement agencies and in order to ensure intervention is consistent with current interpretation of the legislation, the BBFC may pass brief and isolated examples of urination as a part of sexual play , so long as there are no harm concerns under the Video Recordings Act 1984 and no realistic prospect of successful prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act.

Email from the BBFC

September 2010, Thanks to Sergio:

The BBFC makes no distinction in practice between examples of urination / urolagnia and squirting or female ejaculation when they appear in sex works.

Our position is consistent with the enforcement agencies and based on current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959. Under the Crown Prosecution Service guidance and through our own consultation with the Police we are aware that examples of urolagnia (eg. urinating onto another person, ingesting urine) in sex works are likely to be found obscene. The BBFC is obliged to refuse classification to any material which it believes to be in breach of the criminal law.

Material which will not be found obscene under the OPA, for example urination aside from sexual activity or where more borderline cases are very brief and occur no more than once or twice, are likely to be passed at R18. It's very unlikely that urination or female ejaculation will be passed at 18 in a sex work.

The BBFC routinely cut fisting as the authorities have defined fisting to be obscene. They claim that juries regularly find such scenes to be obscene.

The BBFC define fisting as penetration with all five digits beyond the last knuckle

Hot Wax
On police/CPS advice, the BBFC disallow scenes of hot wax dripping on genitals or the anus. There is no prohibition on less sensitive parts of the body.

Comment from beaunidl on The Melon Farmers' Forum

Wrong ! Just watched Tarrant On TV , and at 10:22pm on 12 Oct 2006 there was a piece which clearly showed molten wax being dripped on the tip of a limp willy. The penis ended up coated with a wick in the end (a human candle). The domatrix then lit the wick and the sub blew it out, on the 3rd or 4th attempt.

In particular the BBFC have a chip on their shoulder about the word 'teen' in R18 titles.

The title of a work is likely to be seen by many members of the public who would never choose to watch the contents. It will be displayed on packaging and promotional material, and will appear on the BBFC's website database. The potential for offence is therefore significantly greater than for language which appears in the body of the work itself, which is encountered only by those who have chosen to view the work in question. The degree of offence likely to be caused will depend to some extent on how likely the public are to come across the title by accident.

In addition to considerations of 'offence', the BBFC is also concerned about titles which apparently promise illicit pleasures even though the material itself is neither harmful nor illegal. In future, therefore, the BBFC may ask for changes to a title of a work if it falls into one of the following three categories:

  1. It suggests that sexual participants may be under 18 or that illegal sexual activity (eg incest, rape) is being depicted. Words such as 'schoolgirl', 'scout', 'teenager', 'very young' and 'child' are unlikely to be acceptable if the title has sexual connotations unless the title as a whole makes it clear that the content is not concerned with the presentation of sex involving under-18s.
  2. It suggests that the content may be degrading, dehumanising or humiliating. Words such as 'bitch', 'whore' and 'slut' may be unacceptable if used in a context which appears to degrade women.
  3. It is likely to cause unusual offence to a significant proportion of those who are likely to come across it. The use of pornographic language in a title is unlikely to be acceptable at 18. Particularly crude or explicit titles are unlikely to be acceptable even at R18.
Mail Order
Adverts for hardcore media
Under the Video Recordings Act 1984 it is illegal to offer to supply an 'R18' classified video work other than in a licensed sex shop. This prohibition includes offers to supply by mail order from websites based outside the UK: making the offer in the UK is an offence in itself even if the supply would originate from abroad. It is also illegal to offer to supply an unclassified video work unless that work is exempt from classification. Hardcore pornography is, by its nature, not exempt from classification.

i) A simple website or postal address with no suggestion (verbal, text or pictorial) that goods or services can be purchased from it (eg “”) will normally be passed uncut unless the title itself implies that goods can be purchased from the address (eg “”) in which case (ii) applies.

ii) A website or postal address accompanied by a suggestion (verbal, text or pictorial) that goods or services can be purchased from it (eg “Products are available in our online store”) will normally be cut if a visit to the website reveals that it appears to be offering R18 material or its equivalent (or stronger) by mail order.

NB “by mail order” involves an offer to sell a tape, disc, chip or other storage device by means of the post or a parcel or courier service or similar. An offer to supply hardcore material by video-on-demand (streaming, downloads, etc) or other manner in which no physical product changes hands does not count as mail order supply of a video work.


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