Whittam Smith ankles BBFC

Film censor put more sex on U.K. screens

LONDON — Andreas Whittam Smith is stepping down as president of the British Board of Film Classification after nearly five years in the job.

Since Whittam Smith, a former newspaper editor, became the BBFC’s ninth president in 1997, he has led a liberalization of movie ratings, particularly with regard to sexual content.

This was a response to the results of an extensive public consultation exercise, initiated by Whittam Smith, which revealed that British audiences were far more relaxed about sex on screen than previously thought.

Under Whittam Smith, the BBFC’s prime concern switched to curbing excessive screen violence, and particularly to the protection of children from it.

His philosophy was that adults should be allowed, as far as possible, to make their own viewing choices, rather than having the BBFC do it for them through censorship.

Announcing his departure, Whittam Smith commented, “I recognize that not everyone shares my and the board’s view” on this issue.

Nonetheless, the BBFC is currently exploring the possibility of making the current “12” rating an advisory catagory, rather than a legally enforceable one. Under the U.K. system, the “12,” “15” and “18” ratings are all legally binding.

Whittam Smith will stand down July 31. His replacement has not yet been announced.

More Film

  • Anita Hill

    Anita Hill Chairs Hollywood Anti-Sexual Harassment Commission Formed by Top Execs

    LONDON — Andreas Whittam Smith is stepping down as president of the British Board of Film Classification after nearly five years in the job. Since Whittam Smith, a former newspaper editor, became the BBFC’s ninth president in 1997, he has led a liberalization of movie ratings, particularly with regard to sexual content. This was a […]

  • Warren Beatty

    Arnon Milchan Sues Warren Beatty Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    LONDON — Andreas Whittam Smith is stepping down as president of the British Board of Film Classification after nearly five years in the job. Since Whittam Smith, a former newspaper editor, became the BBFC’s ninth president in 1997, he has led a liberalization of movie ratings, particularly with regard to sexual content. This was a […]

  • Oscar Isaac Addams Family

    Oscar Isaac in Talks to Voice Gomez Addams in Animated 'Addams Family' Movie

    LONDON — Andreas Whittam Smith is stepping down as president of the British Board of Film Classification after nearly five years in the job. Since Whittam Smith, a former newspaper editor, became the BBFC’s ninth president in 1997, he has led a liberalization of movie ratings, particularly with regard to sexual content. This was a […]

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Publicists for Jennifer Lawrence, Daisy Ridley, Amy Adams Form New Firm

    LONDON — Andreas Whittam Smith is stepping down as president of the British Board of Film Classification after nearly five years in the job. Since Whittam Smith, a former newspaper editor, became the BBFC’s ninth president in 1997, he has led a liberalization of movie ratings, particularly with regard to sexual content. This was a […]

  • Hannah Marks Liana Liberato

    Hannah Marks, Liana Liberato to Star in High School Comedy 'Banana Split'

    LONDON — Andreas Whittam Smith is stepping down as president of the British Board of Film Classification after nearly five years in the job. Since Whittam Smith, a former newspaper editor, became the BBFC’s ninth president in 1997, he has led a liberalization of movie ratings, particularly with regard to sexual content. This was a […]

  • NOR_D01_053017_9621_R2 – L-R: Tom Hanks (Ben

    Steven Spielberg's 'The Post' to Open Palm Springs Film Festival

    LONDON — Andreas Whittam Smith is stepping down as president of the British Board of Film Classification after nearly five years in the job. Since Whittam Smith, a former newspaper editor, became the BBFC’s ninth president in 1997, he has led a liberalization of movie ratings, particularly with regard to sexual content. This was a […]

  • Willa Fitzgerald

    'The Goldfinch' Movie Adaptation Casts Willa Fitzgerald (EXCLUSIVE)

    LONDON — Andreas Whittam Smith is stepping down as president of the British Board of Film Classification after nearly five years in the job. Since Whittam Smith, a former newspaper editor, became the BBFC’s ninth president in 1997, he has led a liberalization of movie ratings, particularly with regard to sexual content. This was a […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content