Arthur Watkins was appointed Secretary to the BBFC in 1948, under the Presidency of Sir Sidney Harris. Both men had come from the Home Office, and Watkins was also a successful playwright. Many film-makers sought the BBFC’s advice on scripts before films went into production. Watkins and Harris formulated new terms of reference for the BBFC based on three principles:

  • Was the story, incident or dialogue likely to impair the moral standards of the public by extenuating vice or crime or depreciating moral standards?
  • Was it likely to give offence to reasonably minded cinema audiences?
  • What effect would it have on children?

The effect on children was of major importance since, apart from the advisory H category, from which some councils already chose to bar children, there was no category that excluded children. An ‘adults only’ category was increasingly seen as desirable, not only to protect children, but as an extension of the freedom of film-makers to treat adult subjects in an adult fashion.

You can see a fascinating programme on him and censorship in “Dear Censor… The Secret Archive Of The British Board Of Film Classification (BBFC)”. Click on CENSOR to see