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The A Certificate

Originally 'Adult', it eventually became the present PG classification

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The A certificate was created when the British Board of Film Censors was founded in 1912, and denoted a film considered more suitable for adults, although there was originally no restriction on who could see it.

In 1921, the London County Council revised their cinema licensing terms and conditions, and introduced a clause requiring London cinemas to refuse admission to children under sixteen unless they were accompanied "by a parent or 'bona fide' guardian". Many other local authorities followed suit, and in 1923 the Home Office recommended that this rule be adopted nationally.

For the first twenty years of the BBFC's existence, the A certificate was the most restrictive classification that it applied - any films considered to fall outside its boundaries were either banned or cut. Things eased off slightly with the introduction of the H certificate in 1932 and especially the X certificate in 1951, allowing the BBFC to pass films specifically aimed at adults without the need to make them child-friendly as well.

In 1953, following recommendations by a committee set up by the Home Office, the Ministry of Education and the Scottish Office, the A certificate was modified to admit children accompanied by anyone over sixteen, which made life somewhat easier for cinemas, who no longer had to establish the status of the accompanying adult.

On 1 July 1970, as part of a general revision of BBFC classifications, the A certificate once again became purely advisory, admitting unaccompanied children for the first time in nearly fifty years. It was abolished altogether on 1 November 1982, when it was replaced by the otherwise identical PG certificate. By changing the name from the now-misleading 'Adult' to 'Parental Guidance', the BBFC made its aims rather clearer.

Michael Brooke

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