Power struggles, regulation and responsibility. Reappraising the Video Recordings Act

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This article explores the relationship between the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and government during the implementation of the Video Recordings Act (VRA). It considers the public Parliamentary debates about the VRA, and places them alongside private correspondence between the Home Office and the BBFC, and internal BBFC material from the recently catalogued James Ferman papers held at the BFI. As well as exploring the introduction of the VRA, this article also aims to briefly consider its implications for the BBFC, how they set about interpreting and implementing its stringent recommendations and how this impacted upon the organisational working practices of the Board. While the VRA was without doubt one of the most significant pieces of legislation within the history of film regulation in Britain, the time is ripe for its reappraisal and with it a re-evaluation of the role played by the BBFC in securing statutory regulatory powers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalMedia History
Issue number1
Early online date09 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 09 Sep 2016


  • British Board of Film Classification
  • Video Recordings Act
  • Britain
  • Video nasties
  • film censorship

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