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Wheare Report, The (1950)

1950 government report that introduced the X certificate

Main image of Wheare Report, The (1950)

In 1946, the County Councils Association recommended that the British Board of Film Censors be replaced by an independent censorship body appointed and supervised by local authorities.

The clear implication, even though it was largely contradicted by the reality, was that the CCA felt that the Board was too heavily linked to the film industry, and therefore did not necessarily have the public's moral interests at heart when reaching its decisions. Ironically enough, the impetus for the report had come from an attack on the film industry in general and the BBFC in particular carried out by a group of education officers that included future BBFC Secretary John Trevelyan.

In response to the CCA report, the Home Office, the Ministry of Education and the Scottish Office established a committee, chaired by Professor K.C. Wheare, to examine film censorship in Britain with a view to recommending changes.

The Wheare Committee published its findings in 1950, and concluded that the then current categorisation system (based around the U, A and H certificates) was not working effectively. The report was particularly critical of the A certificate, which at the time required a parent or bona fide adult guardian to accompany children, which put considerable pressure on cinemas.

The report went on to propose the creation of four new certificates:

X - films aimed at adults only, from which children should be absolutely excluded;
C - films aimed specifically at children;
Advisory U - films suitable for all;
Advisory A - films suitable for all, but dealing with more adult subject matter.

Following publication of the Wheare report, the Home Office decided to retain the existing system, but to replace the confusing H certificate with a new X certificate along the lines proposed by the report. This was introduced in 1951.

Michael Brooke

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Thumbnail image of Trevelyan, John (1903-1986)Trevelyan, John (1903-1986)