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Cooke, David (1956-)


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David Cooke has been the Director of the British Board of Film Classification since September 2004, following the retirement of Robin Duval.

A career civil servant since 1977, he worked in the Home Office, Cabinet Office and Northern Ireland Office, and was extensively involved in media content regulation when he headed a policy unit in the Home Office Broadcasting Department between 1987 and 1990, during which he was instrumental in setting up the Broadcasting Standards Council and Radio Authority and worked on co-ordinating the controversial 1990 Broadcasting Act. At the time of the BBFC appointment he was Associate Political Director at the Northern Ireland Office.

When he took up the BBFC position, Cooke announced that "It is vital for the classification process to be independent, fair and open; to command public confidence; and to be responsive to social concerns", which suggested a continuation of the policy of openness and accountability set up by Robin Duval, whereby adults are given the freedom to make up their own minds but children are increasingly protected from potentially harmful content.

This impression was confirmed by his first high-profile decisions since assuming office, to grant the film Nine Songs (d. Michael Winterbottom, 2004) a normal 18 certificate without cuts despite its sexually graphic content, and to restrict the film Top Spot (d. Tracey Emin, 2004) to adults only following concerns about imitable suicide techniques.

Michael Brooke

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Thumbnail image of British Board of Film ClassificationBritish Board of Film Classification

The organisation primarily responsible for film and video censorship in the UK

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Thumbnail image of Duval, Robin (1941-)Duval, Robin (1941-)