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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 18:23 GMT
Whitehouse against censorship changes
Mary Whitehouse
Mary Whitehouse began her campaign for decency in 1964
Veteran decency campaigner Mary Whitehouse has urged film censors to abandon any plans to relax classification guidelines for teenagers and youngsters.

Mrs Whitehouse said the country was in a dangerous state and called on the Prime Minister Tony Blair to take steps to ensure that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) did not loosen its guidelines.


We would only make a change if there was clear public support

BBFC spokeswoman

Her call follows press reports that the BBFC, which issues film certificates on films released in the UK, is considering replacing the current 12 and 15 certificates with a parental guidance certificate.

But a spokeswoman for the BBFC told BBC News Online that the reports were "absolute nonsense".

'Clear mandate'

She said: "I can assure Mrs Whitehouse that we are not intending to remove the 15 certificate and we would only change the 12 certificate if there is a very clear mandate from the public to do so."

I am calling on the Prime Minister to take responsibility himself for these particular threats that are bearing down upon us

Mary Whitehouse

Last year censors relaxed restrictions on 18-rated films after a major survey showed that most adults believe they should be allowed to make up their own minds about what they watch.

Mrs Whitehouse, who recovering from a serious accident, said: "We all need to accept what a dangerous state our country is in today and I am calling on the prime minister to take responsibility himself for these particular threats that are bearing down upon us."

The 90-year-old founder of the National Viewers and Listeners Association said: "If Mr Blair is going to express his concerns about violence he has no alternative but to replace the controls they intend to remove."

The reports come ahead of a speech BBFC director Robin Duvall is to give the Royal Society of Artists on Wednesday, in which he intends to speak about a long-term plan to research public opinion on certification.

'Mandatory system'

The BBFC spokeswoman said: "This is a long-term issue. We would only make a change if there was clear public support for it and if we had the agreement of the film industry, local authorities and cinemas.

"Generally, we know that people prefer a mandatory system."

There are six levels of films classification in Britain - from U, suitable for all, to R18, for material available in licensed sex shops to adults only.

The BBFC spokeswoman said it would be "years" before any change could be implemented, and only then with the overwhelming backing of the public.

Mrs Whitehouse began her campaign for improved moral standards in 1964, with the first meeting of her Clean Up TV Campaign.

She complained vehemently of the increasing "blasphemy, bad language, violence and indecency" she saw on television, and became the first General Secretary of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association in 1965.

She officially retired in 1994 and now lives in a nursing home.

See also:

14 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Censors relax film guidelines
22 May 00 | UK
Green light for porn films
14 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Whitehouse attacks 'Viagra' panto
10 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Fight Club bruised by censors
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