Classifying cursing

January 07, 2011, 1:46 AM GMT+0

This article contains language which some readers may find offensive

Much of the British public feel that films in which offensive language is rife should be given an ‘18’certificate, our poll has found. The next most popular rating was the 15 certificate. The poll also showed that young people aged 18-24 are more likely to favour lower age certificates, while the over 60s would have more severe restrictions.

  • 42% thought that an 18 certificate was appropriate for films featuring offensive language
  • 39% of people would like to see these films secure a 15 certificate
  • 6% would give such films a 12a rating
  • While just 4% felt that films with offensive language should be rated PG

Young people are more likely to feel that offensive language should not merit a high age restriction.

  • 51% of 18 to 24 year olds felt films featuring swearing should be given a 15 certificate
  • Compared to 17% who felt 18 was more appropriate
  • The over 60s were the most likely to think an 18 certificate was necessary, with 64% backing the highest limit of 18.


Film classification has recently caused upset with the director of Made in Dagenham, Nigel Cole, who protested against the film being handed a 15 certificate. He claimed that although the film does include the word ‘fuck’ several times, its use was necessary to stay true to the context of the story, and argued that the classification was too harsh given that no nudity, violence or horror are present.

The issue has again risen to the fore in light of the imminent release of The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth, which also includes over a dozen uses of the swearword, but was granted a 12 certificate. Cole suggested that class discrimination was to blame, claming that Made in Dagenham was penalised because it concerns working class women swearing whereas The King’s Speech received a lesser rating because the aristocracy fills the ranks of The King’s Speech.

See the survey details and full results here