The United Kingdom (often referred as Britain and known also by the acronym UK) is a European country that speaks English and worships Christianity (mostly Anglicanism). A member of the European Union from 1973 to 2020. The UK is made up by England (where the capital London is), Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is a constitutional monarchy.
- A law introduced in April 2010 was thought to ban anything that had a child participating in or near to sexual acts, but it was eventually tightened up to specifically only target actual child pornography.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has the authority to effectively ban films by refusing to rate them or give them a classification; films cannot be sold or displayed in the U.K. without such a classification. They've gotten considerably more lenient since 1999; these days, they'll only refuse classifications for films with animal torture, child pornography, particularly dangerous and imitable actions, sexually alluring graphic violence, or invasions of privacy.
Films considered as 'video nasties' are generally low-budget exploitation or horror films that have been known as these in 1983. These movies were refused a classification by the BBFC, effectively banning them. The problem was that it just made people curious, and the films being on a list made it easier for people to identify the "good stuff"; as such, the BBFC has become more lenient in recent years. Many of the Video Nasties are still banned today, although mostly because they have never been re-submitted for a new certificate. Among these are The Beast in Heat, Blood Rites, Fight for Your Life, Forest of Fear, Last Orgy of the Third Reich, Love Camp 7, Mardi Gras Massacre, and The Werewolf and the Yeti - whci have still not been passed by the BBFC. A ninth film, Snuff, was passed in 2003 but has yet to receive a home video re-release. The others have mostly been re-released uncut, although films that feature unsimulated animal cruelty, such as Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust, still have the most graphic scenes trimmed.
Any film which depicts unsimulated animal cruelty, including cockfights and horsefalls, is never going to be seen uncut in the UK.
- The Island of Lost Souls - this film was banned until 1958, due to its depiction of vivisections, which fell under the policy of not depicting cruelty to animals in feature films.
- A notorious video nasty is The Last House on the Left (1972), which was banned several times starting with the film's original attempted theatrical release in the UK in 1974. Anchor Bay's 2004 DVD was also forced to have cuts, but they got around this by including the deleted material in frame-by-frame photo galleries in the bonus features (the BBFC only rates motion video content), providing a link to cut scenes on a website (also outside the BBFC's control). The film was finally passed uncut in 2008, and only because of its "dated nature" by that point. This video has a detailed rundown of the film's notorious censorship history in the UK.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles used to be censored due to the display of nunchakus and shurikens (as possessing those weapons in the UK is illegal).
- Any scene depicting ninja weapons such as nunchakus and shurikens was censored. Such examples were the iconic nunchaku scene of Burce Lee's Enter the Dragon and the final fight scene of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
- A Clockwork Orange was voluntarily not distributed by the director Stanley Kubrick, after he heard of crimes and rapes inspired by the movie and fearing for his own safety. The ban was lifted when Kubrick died in 1999.
- Freaks was banned for almost 30 years due to the shock of the audiences during some scenes.
- 1 Day was banned in Birmingham for portraying gang warfare in said city.
- Mikey was banned by the BBFC due to the real-life James Bulger murder case.
- Re-releases of Hell of the Living Dead and Reservoir Dogs were briefly held up in the aftermath, though home video classifications were finally bestowed upon Hell of the Living Dead in 2002 and Reservoir Dogs in 1995 (the latter following a theatrical re-release).
- While Monty Python's Life of Brian had a release, the lobby groups in the UK were outraged about the film's subject matter. They knew that lobbying the government directly would just draw attention to the film, so they instead went to local councils — over which these groups exerted enormous influence — and convinced them to ban the film from theatres in their own town. Many of them did so, without having seen the film or even asking why they should ban it. A Channel 4 documentary about the film's clash with the lobby groups showed a particularly insane interview with a councilman in Harrogate who had banned the film there:
"Reporter: Now, you've not actually seen the film?
Councillor: No, we haven't.
Reporter: What reports have you had of it? Where have those reports come from?
Councillor: The reports have come from the Festival of Light, and they have told us of the attitude of the American Catholic church(sic) and the American Jewish church (sic).
Reporter: What do you know about the Festival of Light yourself?
- The Human Centipede II was released as direct-to-video (differently from other countries, where it had a theatrical release if it was released at all) with 150 seconds of footage cut to remove sexualized violence and extreme gross-out scenes.
- David Cronenberg's Crash was banned by the Westminster Council in London by (whose territory covers the main West End theatres) after a censorious campaign against it by lobby groups.
- Grotesque was banned the BBFC did ban it, which let Japanese filmmaker Koji Shiraishi say that he was "delighted and flattered by this most expected reaction from the faraway country, since the film is an honest conscientious work, made sure to upset the so-called moralists." The BBFC noted that it's quite capable of telling an honest work of art, and that "the chief pleasure on offer seems to be wallowing in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake."
- Hate Crime, a 2012 found footage-like home invasion thriller about a Jewish family who find themselves subjected to horrific acts of violence, rape, and torture by a gang of meth-addicted neo-Nazis, was deliberately intended to get slapped with a BBFC ban. Director James Bressack, himself Jewish, was proud about the fact that his film was "officially too twisted for the UK" and once again attempted to justify it as a conscientious work designed to draw attention to the issue of anti-Semitic hate. Once again, the BBFC was not convinced, making it clear that they understood the difference between sincere art and exploitation masquerading as art.
- Visions of Ecstasy, a short film featuring Saint Teresa of Avila sexually caressing the body of Jesus on the cross, was banned as violating a British anti-blasphemy law then on the books. The film remains the only film banned in the U.K. for blasphemy, In 1996, the distributor went to the European Court of Human Rights, asking them to consider whether any anti-blasphemy law could be consistent with the right to freedom of expression, but was told that it was. The law would abolished in 2008, and the film finally got a DVD release in 2012.
- Just Jaeckin's The Story of O was banned outright in the UK until 2000.
- The Trip (1967) was banned in the UK, due to being seen as an advertisement for LSD.
- Savage Man, Savage Beast, a 1976 mondo film, was banned in its uncut form upon its release, and nearly ten minutes' worth of footage had to be removed before it could be passed (with an X rating) by the BBFC.
On BBC, paid advertising is banned, due to the network being public access and funded by license fees.
- Yo-Kai Watch - the episodes "The Sleepover" and "Yo-Kai Fidgepant" were banned on their initial releases.
- Ikki Tousen: Dragon Destiny: One of its mini-OVAs was essentially banned by the BBFC through requiring the entire length of the OVA to be cut from the DVD except for the credits due to sexualized depictions of underage nudity.
- Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: The anime was not distributed past its first season by Anime Limited due to fears of a ban in the UK.
- Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid: this anime was banned because the BBFC demanded extensive cuts to teenage sexual activity and nudity throughout to get an 18 rating. The unnamed distributor canceled their plans to release the series, and it was also pulled from the Funimation UK site.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt - this anime is not allowed to be shown on television at all for its extreme sexual references and strong use of bad language- Funimation tried to do a censored edition to get it on Adult Swim, with the fans backing it. However, it was ultimately rejected. That said, it is still allowed on Blu-Ray and DVD, so it's only a soft-ban.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 TV Series): In the United Kingdom, the series was originally released under the name Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (TMHT). This was due to the controversy surrounding ninjas and related weapons such as nunchaku at the time. The intro sequence was heavily edited because of this, replacing the word ninja with hero or fighting, using a digitally faded logo instead of the animated blob, and removing any scenes in which Michelangelo wields his nunchaku, replacing them with clips from the show. Scenes of Michelangelo using his nunchaku were likewise edited out of the episodes themselves, which led the American show runners to drop the weapons from the series entirely in the fourth season in order to make the show more appropriate for the international airings. The weapons were replaced with a grappling hook called the "Turtle Line" that served as Mikey's signature weapon for the rest of the show's run. The word 'ninja' was also edited out of any speech within the show, often leading to some awkward sounding dialogue. The ban on depictions of such weapons however, was relaxed in 1999 and the 2003 TMNT series survived in the UK unchanged.
- Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation: This TV series, was made with Michelangelo not having nunchucks because of the opinion that some countries have about him, and so the censorship that the Europeans did was change the name to Hero Turtles: The Next Mutation.
Since the Jimmy Savile sex scandal was revealed in 2012, most of the memorials, organizations, and archive footage which featured him (such as the BBC show Jim'll Fix It, for instance) have been removed, destroyed, or made unavailable to the general public, including every episode of Top of the Pops presented or co-presented by Saville.
Margaret Thatcher's government (1979-1992) was very sensitive about the terrorist group IRA, which had blown up several of its members. As such, it banned the broadcast of anything said by terrorists or their spokesmen, with interesting results:
- While the ban prohibited broadcasting their statements, the government couldn't stop the media from actually interviewing them. This led to an odd practice where a politician (such as Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein) would be interviewed, their voice would be clearly delayed out of sync. This practice was satirised by The Day Today (where the interviewee was required to inhale helium) and remembered years later by a radio episode of Dead Ringers (where the interviewer was delayed, as his questioning about the Iraq War was "too scary" for the politicians).
- The government tried to ban Death on the Rock, a Thames Television documentary which suggested that the government may have unlawfully killed some IRA members. It didn't work, so the government just mass-deregulated ITV and watched it get outbid and replaced (which in turn led to ITV's network decay and mass consolidation).
- Deadliest Warrior : the episode "IRA vs. Taliban" as the only one of said show not aired in the United Kingdom. The government didn't ban it, but no network was willing to show it. Charlie Brooker got away with showing the intro and an abridged fight sequence on You Have Been Watching, the final outcome of the fight being the question for his panellists. Incidentally, the IRA wins this particular game of militant five-a-side with a well-placed car bomb.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - the episode "The High Ground" was left out of the original BBC broadcast of the show during The Troubles, because Data mentioned that Ireland was reunited in 2024 after a successful "terrorist" campaign, in the context of a story based around a fantastic racism-based metaphorical version of Northern Ireland (which at the time had a sectarian war between Catholics and Protestants, where the IRA (which used violence for the goal of uniting Ireland.) caused most casualities).
- Star Trek: The Original Series - the episode "Miri", during its first BBC broadcast, led to protests over its alleged horrific nature. As a result, it and three later episodes ("Plato's Stepchildren", "The Empath", and "Whom Gods Destroy") were suppressed from BBC broadcasts of the show until the 1990s for being deemed too violent and horrific. Strangely, the BBC broadcasted much worse scenes on its own show Doctor Who scot-free.
- Everybody Loves Raymond: two episodes of this sitcom could not be shown before the watershed. The first is "Marie's Sculpture", due to its depiction of a large sculpture of a vagina. The second is "No Roll!", due to its detailing of Ray and Debra's sex life. Some may find it odd, because the show's native United States is more stringent with sexual humour than Britain; but actual depictions of genitalia are pretty much taboo on British TV (and the show also aired on weekday mornings, leading to further censorship).
- Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue - the episode "Go Volcanic" was skipped over by Fox Kids UK due to its depiction of a realistic firearm. However, the episode aired on GMTV, though.
- The Simpsons:
- "The Cartridge Family" was omitted by Sky One due to depiction of foolish use of firearms (particularly the scene where Bart finds Homer's gun in the refrigerator and uses it to play William Tell with Milhouse). When the show's terrestrial broadcaster, BBC Two (at the time, the show's UK terrestrial broadcaster having since changed to Channel 4), got the rights four years later they had no qualms about showing the episode uncut, and when Sky One regained the broadcast rights for this episode in the mid-2000s, they also broadcast it uncensored. The episode was available on a PAL VHS called "The Simpsons: Too Hot for TV".
- The episode "Weekend at Burnsie's" was heavily edited by Sky One due to scenes of Homer being assaulted by animals (the crows pecking Homer in the eyes and the drug dog biting Homer in the crotch) and drug themes (Homer smoking marijuana for medical purposes). In contrast, Australia and America have aired the episode unedited, but with higher ratings than normal. Both Sky and Channel 4 have since shown this episode on very few occasions, but only after 9:00 pm with no advertising.
- The episode "Smoke on the Daughter" did not air on Channel 4 in the UK, due to the plot of Lisa becoming addicted to passive smoke to improve her ballet skills.
- Usually, Channel 4 censors any scenes of Moe attempting suicide, but the episode "Whiskey Business" was not aired on that network due to Moe's suicidal behavior being a central part of the plot. However Channel 4 did air it in 2019 in a late night time slot instead of the show's usual teatime slot.
- Mickey Mouse - the 1933 cartoon The Mad Doctor was banned due to the presence of skeletons, representing "the living undead" and fell under restrictions put in place after 1931 films such as Frankenstein and Dracula were shown on British theatres.
- Betty Boop - the 1934 cartoon "Red Hot Mama" was banned due to its depiction of Hell being deemed "unsuitable for public distribution in this country".
- Broomstick Cottage - this Canadian-esque 1990 cartoon was refused broadcast on British television.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- the episode "Shanghaied" is rarely aired in the country due to it being scary.
- the episode "Spongebob in Randomland" had some seconds cut which actually referenced the infamous Squidward's Suicide creepypasta.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - the episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" was not aired in the UK at all, due to the fact that in British English, "cider" refers to the alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple juice (as opposed to the American and Canadian, which refers also to the non-alcoholic beverage), which would make the episode inappropriate to kids by UK standards. It does not help matters that cheap supermarket cider in the UK is infamous as something that underage kids illegally acquire to get drunk on. (Making the climax of the episode much, much funnier, but alas...) The episode "Bats!" also had references to Rainbow Dash craving cider cut out.
- Pingu had some episodes censored or banned due to their contents:
- "Pingu's Lavatory Story" is a notorious example, as it features somewhat realistic depictions of the characters urinating (even though penguins in real life don't excrete in that way humans do). The episode is heavily edited, but it's still allowed to air on TV.
- "Pingu Runs Away" and "Pingu's Dream" were banned for their heavy amounts of content which could be considered as "frightening".
- Titeuf - this Swiss-French animated series could only be broadcasted in a heavily censored edition, as the original had a way more liberal approach to children's attitude to sex and sexuality than British censors were with.
- Teen Titans Go! had the episodes "Caged Tiger" and "Serious Business" rarely shown on the UK feed of Cartoon Network as their contents were by the BBFC as "imitable behavior" (a character messing with electrical cords and a character jumping into a toilet, respectively) until the former episode came back into regular rotation on 26 November 2017 paired with "Animals: It's Just A Word", while the latter came back on 26 March 2018 paired with "Hot Salad Water".
- Adventure Time - the episode "Breezy" was never broadcast in the UK due to the pervasive sexual subject matter which was considered impossible to be produced a child-friendly cut. Some episodes involving Finn losing his right arm were not broadcast in the Britain either, fearing that young viewers would find them too upsetting.
- Hillsborough - this 2014 made-for-TV documentary, which is a 25-year retrospective of the infamous Hillsborough disaster (in which 96 Liverpool FC supporters died after the Hillsborough stadium stand's central pen crushed due to overcrowding during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest played in Sheffield), was initially banned in the UK due to the reevaluation of the events of the disaster in a High Court inquest. The documentary was aired in the US on the 25th anniversary of the disaster. After the final verdict was announced in 2016, the BBC aired it with added footage of the inquest and its final verdict.
- In 1976, the BBC refused to broadcast the Formula 1 1976 British Grand Prix due to one of the cars, the Surtees TS19 driven by Alan Jones, having as sponsor Durex, a condom manufacturer, as Team Surtees refused to remove the Druex logo from its cars. As result from this decision from the BBC, many British viewers missed out one of the most exciting duels of the 1976 season between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
- Lady Chatterley's Lover - this novel ould not be published openly in the United Kingdom until 1961, due to its explicit language and depiction of sex (and, it's been suggested, its depiction of an affair between an aristocratic woman and a working-class man). In 1959, Penguin Books published a version and were immediately hit with prosecution under the then-recent Obscene Publications Act. The defence were able to call some of the most respected and admired scholars and critics of the day to testify on their behalf, and the prosecutor didn't do himself any favours when he asked the jury to consider whether the book was the kind "you would wish your wife or servants to read" — a rather condescending question which no doubt charmed the socks off the women and middle-class people on the jury The jury returned a "not guilty" verdict, and the trial is often credited for the resulting relaxing of regulations for publishing explicit material in Britain.
- The Well of Loneliness - this lesbian novel of the 1920s was banned for a "graphic depiction of lesbian sex", which consisted of the single sentence, "And that night they were not divided." It was also the subject of the highest-profile obscenity prosecution before the Chatterley case, with very different results; it never even got to a jury, and the magistrate notoriously rejected the mere concept of a defence of artistic merit in obscenity cases.
- The Love That Dares to Speak its Name - this poem by James Kirkup was banned due to its description of a Roman soldier falling in love with the crucified Christ and having sex with his corpse before the Resurrection, while also suggesting that Jesus had sexual relations with practically every other male character in the Gospels. Its publication in Gay News in 1976 led to the UK's last criminal prosecution for blasphemy, brought privately by notorious conservative activist Mary Whitehouse against the magazine's publishing company, and the editor Denis Lemon. Both were fined and Lemon got a suspended prison sentence. The criminal blasphemy law was abolished in England and Wales in 2008, but remains in force in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Video Games censorship
- Carmageddon - this game the first to be refused classification in 1997, due to "glamourising vehicular homicide". Later, the BBFC reversed its decision, resulting in the game being released uncensored after a lawsuit from the game's developers, SCI.
- Hitman 2: Silent Assassin - this game was withdrawn from sales in 2002 due to religious insensivities, as one mission involved a Sikh sect depitcted as terrorists involved in arms smuggling and assassination, as well a section that many Sikhs believed it resembled closely the 1984 massacre at Amritsar Golden Temple.
- Manhunt 2 - this game was refused a rating by the BBFC, outright banning it since retailers require a rating to sell such items. This was the first such ban for a game in over a decade, and the courts eventually overturned the decision, which was bluntly justified it by stating that it wasn't even a very good game.
- Omega Labyrinth Z this game was banned in 2018, due to its extremely sexualised content featuring characters who looked very underage. The UK is the fifth country to ban the game after Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.
- RapeLay - this games is banned in Britain after worldwide media caught wind of the infamous game, for obvious reasons, Despite the game never having a release scheduled outside of Japan, and Illusion, the company behind it, outright saying they have no interest in bringing it outside the country.
- Rule of Rose had its release postponed due to pressure from Members of the Parliament, after a moral panic story from an Italian magazine about it, alleging that sexual contact between minors takes place in the game. It did not help that the trailer at the time featured the obviously school-age Diana suggestively raising the hem-line of her dress, whilst smiling coquettishly. Added to these the European impression then that all video games are universally for children, and the outcry started. While those allegations are dubious at best, The romantic friendship between two school girls sort of this sort is a major theme, though it was likely ultimately unreleased/banned because of the adult characters doing harm to minors and the fact that the game is set in the UK.
- There is not such thing called "American" Catholic Church, at least not with the recognition of the Holy See. The councilman probably meant United States Council of Catholic Bishops (the episcopal umbrella for Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in the US), or more likely the Legion of Decency, a semi-official group that by that time had its own ratings system parallel to the MPAA's. The ratings system is still used (with small modifications) by Catholic News Service, and is now strictly advisory in nature.