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The U Certificate

The oldest BBFC certificate, denoting films suitable for all

Main image of The U Certificate

The U certificate dates right back to the founding of the British Board of Film Censors in 1912, and has remained essentially unchanged since then. 'U' stands for 'Universal', and allows anyone to watch the film, with no restrictions whatsoever.

Current BBFC guidelines recommend that U certificate films be suitable for anyone from the age of about four years and upwards, and that the films should "be set within a positive moral framework and should offer reassuring counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror."

In 1985, following the recommendations of the 1984 Video Recordings Act, the U certificate was extended to cover video releases. An additional video-only Uc classification was created at the same time, which was given to videos deemed particularly suitable for pre-school children.

The BBFC permits the following within the bounds of the U certificate:

Theme: Treatment of problematic themes must be sensitive and appropriate to a younger audience.

Language: Infrequent use only of very mild bad language.

Nudity: Occasional natural nudity, with no sexual context.

Sex: Mild sexual behaviour (e.g., kissing) and references only (e.g., to 'making love').

Violence: Mild violence only. Occasional mild threat or menace only.

Imitable techniques: No emphasis on realistic weapons.

Horror: Horror effects should be mild and brief and should take account of the presence of very young viewers. The outcome should be reassuring.

Drugs: No references to illegal drugs or drug use.

Michael Brooke

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