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Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Censors relax film guidelines
reservoir dogs
Lets go to work? Adults will make up their own minds
Censors are relaxing 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.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) say 18-category films will be cut "only rarely" - when "the more explicit images of sexual activity" cannot be justified by context, or scenes "promote" violent or dangerous acts including drug use.

However, the rules for what can be shown to younger viewers will be tightened up, particularly regarding the portrayal of drug use.

The first sign of the censorship thaw came on Thursday when one of the world's most notorious sex films, Deep Throat, was finally passed uncut by the BBFC.

The movie caused outrage when it was made in 1972 for its graphic scenes and the film is widely credited with breaking down US censorship laws.

BBFC Director, Robin Duval, said on Thursday: "What was very clear from the consultation - which involved over 3,000 people from all demographic groups and from right across the UK - was that adults want to choose what they watch without excessive intervention by the board."

The BBFC decided to tighten its rules on the portrayal of drug use, violence, bad language and sex in films and videos aimed at young people after its survey revealed most people wanted more protection for children.

It is also going to be stricter on blasphemy after the survey highlighted intolerance of swearing with religious associations.

BBFC Director, Robin Duval
Duval: drugs concern
There is particular concern about drugs, and the new guidelines state that U-category films should have no drug references while restrictions on portrayals of drug use in PG, 12 and 15-rated movies have been strengthened.

But Mark Crowdy, the writer of 15-rated Saving Grace, has defended the film's portrayal of drug use.

"Drugs are a part of society," he told the BBC's Today programme.

Real sex

Nearly half the people surveyed thought adults should be allowed to see graphic portrayals of real sex in films and videos.

Earlier this year the BBFC relaxed rules on sex videos, allowing more explicit, real sex scenes after it was defeated in a court case.

But these R18-category films are available only through licensed sex shops.

The BBFC is an independent body which views films to see which certificate would be most suitable and also suggests cuts to film distributors which would allow them to be given a younger rating.

The BBC's Torin Douglas
"They feel this is line with what the public does want"
BBFC Director, Robin Duval
"We've been through the most comprehensive public research"

Sex and drugs
Should they be cut out of our films?
See also:

12 Jul 00 | UK
Big screen to windscreen
22 May 00 | UK
Green light for porn films
22 Apr 00 | Tom Brook
Hollywood's violent appetite
12 Sep 00 | Americas
Hollywood denies 'selling violence'
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