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Sexual assault and violence would raise James Bond age classification, BBFC says

The age rating of two James Bond films would be raised if they were rereleased today, because of the portrayal of violence and sexual assault, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has said.

Goldfinger and From Russia With Love, both starring Sir Sean Connery and released in the 1960s, were flagged during a public consultation as films audiences believe should be classified more cautiously.

The consultation involved 12,000 people across the UK and informed the new BBFC classification guidelines published on Tuesday.

Under the new guidelines, the word f*** will also be allowed for the first time in trailers rated 12.

The BBFC previously said the word was strictly not permitted in trailers and only infrequently in feature films with 12 ratings.

Speaking at the launch event for the new guidelines, BBFC president Natasha Kaplinsky said her experiences as a mother have informed her desire to help protect children from age-inappropriate content both online and offline.

Ms Kaplinsky said: “There is a growing tide of people that are calling for online/offline parity.

“Children need to be protected, whether they’re watching something that’s been graded by the BBFC or whether they’re consuming content in their own bedrooms.”

During the consultation, violence in From Russia With Love was flagged “unanimously” by focus groups for being “too prolonged, impactful and intense” to be classified as PG today, the BBFC said.

Respondents also highlighted an interaction in Goldfinger between Bond and Pussy Galore in a barn, that audiences today would view as sexual assault and not appropriate for a PG rating.

David Austin, BBFC chief executive said: “People told us that neither of those films would be appropriate for PG any more, they would need to go to a 12A.”

Mr Austin said the BBFC would not be reclassifying previously released films unless they were being rereleased.

He said: “When stuff gets rereleased, the profile increases, more people are going to be watching it and that’s when we reclassify.

“If those films came in for a high-definition rerelease, for example, they would be classified at 12A.”

In February, Mary Poppins’ age rating was raised from U to PG by the BBFC because of “discriminatory language” ahead of the film’s rerelease marking its 60th anniversary.

The BBFC said the new classification guidelines reflect shifts in public opinion on violence, drug use, sex and use of language.

Sexual violence remains the biggest area of concern for UK audiences, as it was when this research was last conducted in 2019, the board said.

The BBFC added that suicide and self-harm have risen to the second biggest area of concern, ahead of sex, violence and drugs since 2019, with audiences expressing a clear desire to be warned about this type of content.