Colin Firth welcomes censors' reclassification decision

Colin Firth (l) with King's Speech director Tom Hooper Firth (l) plays King George VI in the film, directed by Tom Hooper (r)

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Colin Firth has welcomed the British Board of Film Classification's decision to lower the rating of his new film The King's Speech from 15 to 12A.

"It's wonderful news," said the actor at the film's London premiere. "They did the right thing."

The film's UK distributors had launched an appeal after the BBFC rated it 15 for its use of strong language.

Tom Hooper's film shows King George VI being encouraged by a speech therapist to swear to overcome a stammer.

The BBFC said it had "applied its formal reconsideration process" and decided the language was not aggressive or directed at any person.

The film has been reclassified as 12A with the consumer advice that it "contains strong language in a speech therapy context".

Start Quote

It's a triumph for the fact you have to make a decision in context”

End Quote Tom Hooper Director, The King's Speech

Had The King's Speech been released with a 15 certificate, no-one under that age would have been allowed to see it.

Now, however, no-one beneath the age of 12 can see the film - out in the UK on 7 January - unless accompanied by an adult.

Speaking on Thursday night, Hooper said he was "elated" by the BBFC's move, which he called "a triumph for the fact you have to make a decision in context".

"I'm incredibly thrilled and incredibly grateful and I hope it means more people will go and see the film," he continued.

The director had earlier attacked the original ruling at a press conference for the film, saying "my head is in my hands about it".

Firth had also expressed dismay over the 15 rating, which was originally passed on 15 October.

"It would be very interesting actually for somebody to do a study as to who the people are that would complain about that stuff (bad language), before they would complain about the violence," he told reporters on Thursday morning.

Helena Bonham Carter (r) with partner Tim Burton Helena Bonham Carter (r) attended the premiere with her partner Tim Burton

It was subsequently reported that the BBFC had reclassified The King's Speech following the comments.

But the BBFC said the rating was changed before the press conference took place and that it had informed the film company of its decision on Thursday morning.

Actor Geoffrey Rush, who plays the monarch's unconventional therapist, said the swear words were "not [used] in any abusive or hurtful context."

The BBFC's language guidelines for a 12A release say that the use of strong language must be infrequent.

Helena Bonham Carter and Timothy Spall were among other cast members to attend the film's premiere, held in London's Leicester Square.

Bonham Carter plays Firth's wife - the future Queen Mother - in The King's Speech, part of whose funding came from the recently axed UK Film Council.

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