Stepping back in time – BBFC celebrates its 100th birthday!

The BBFC was set up in 1912, so in 2012 we became 100 years old – it was our centenary! To celebrate, there were plenty of special activities to do with film and film history.

The BBFC black cards, seen in the cinema on the screen before the film starts, all have the age rating of the film, the name of the film, and the signatures of the BBFC’s current Director and President. However, the style of these has changed several times in the last 100 years. As part of the centenary celebrations, people going to watch a film in 2012 could see updated versions of these old cards from the 1940s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s.

  • The first ‘retro’ card shown in cinemas in 2012 was based on the 1912 theatrical card, first seen in front of a film before the First World War in 1913

Other activities to celebrate our Centenary year included a special film season at the British Film Institute, two exhibitions about the history of the BBFC, and a specially-written book about 100 years of film classification. There were also education events and competitions, like the Children’s BBFC one to design a centenary black card – you can see the winning entry from 10 year old Jason Bangar here.

What's changed since 1912?

Plenty of things have changed in the 100 years since the BBFC was first set up to age rate films - including the symbols themselves! Did you know that there wasn’t a PG rating at all until 1982? Or that our newest symbol is 12A, and it was only introduced in 2002?

To discover some more fascinating facts about what has happened at the BBFC in the last 100 years, visit our Timeline section.