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Tuesday, 26 December, 2000, 13:16 GMT
Film boss defends Elliot decision
Billy Elliot
Strong language: Jamie Bell stars in Billy Elliot
Film classification chief Andreas Whittam Smith has defended his decision to give Billy Elliot a 15 certificate.

The British Board of Film Classification president said he would have been "overwhelmed" with complaints if younger children had been able to see the film, which follows a young boy's ambitions to become a ballet dancer.

He feared people would have been outraged if the film had been given the lesser 12 certificate, because bad language features in it more than 50 times.

Andreas Whittam Smith
Andreas Whittam Smith: Public sensitive about bad language
Billy Elliot went on to become a big hit in the UK and the US, where it has been nominated for four Golden Globe awards.

He said: "The British public, unique among countries, remains very sensitive about bad language.

"I am perfectly sure that if this was passed at 12 we would have been overwhelmed with complaints about the bad language."

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that swearing was becoming more of a worry to the public than sexually explicit scenes.

"We have just changed our guidelines after the most extensive programme of research any broadcaster or cinema body has ever done," he said.

"The public told us three things. It said, as far as the lower age category is concerned, we want you to be tougher on violence, weapons and language.

"As far as sex is concerned, they said go easy at 15, because people know more than you think, and at 18 they said keep out of our way."

He added: "We have done those three things."

See also:

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Billy aims to conquer Europe
25 Oct 00 | Entertainment
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16 Sep 00 | Entertainment
High hopes for Billy
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