British Board of Film Classification

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18 – Suitable only for adults

No one younger than 18 may see an 18 film in a cinema. No one younger than 18 may rent or buy an 18 rated video work. Adults should be free to choose their own entertainment.

Exceptions are most likely in the following areas:

• where the material is in breach of the criminal law, or has been created through the commission of a criminal offence
• where material or treatment appears to us to risk harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society. For example, the detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug use, which may cause harm to public health or morals. This may include portrayals of sadistic or sexual violence which make this violence look appealing; reinforce the suggestion that victims enjoy sexual violence; or which invite viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities
• where there are more explicit images of sexual activity in the context of a sex work (see below) or where the primary purpose of the images in question is sexual arousal In the case of video works, which may be more accessible to younger viewers, intervention may be more frequent than for cinema films.

Sex education at 18

Where sex material genuinely seeks to inform and educate in matters such as human sexuality or safer sex and health, explicit images of sexual activity may be permitted.

Sex works at 18

Sex works are works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation. Sex works containing only material which may be simulated are generally passed 18. Sex works containing clear images of real sex, strong fetish material, sexually explicit animated images, or other very strong sexual images will be confined to the R18 category. Material which is unacceptable in a sex work at R18 is also unacceptable in a sex work at 18.

How can I find out more about a specific 18 film?

Please check the BBFCinsight for the film or video you are thinking of watching. BBFCinsight is available on this website, on our free App as well as on film posters, DVD and Blu-ray packaging, and on some listings. It provides comprehensive information on exactly why a film or video has been given a particular category. All the issues are discussed in detail and parents in particular can use this information to make informed decisions when choosing viewing material for their children.

A guide to BBFCinsight is available here.

When searching the film database, details of 18 rated sex works will only appear if you 'enable adult content' using the advanced search option.

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