Pure Unbridled Filth – Some vile things banned by the BBFC

Readers of a milksop disposition, look away now! From the archives, Frank once again besmirches the pages of The Dabbler with pure unbridled filth…

According to John Trevelyan in What The Censor Saw (1973), the following list includes some of the disgusting and morally repugnant subjects rightly banned by the British Board of Film Censors during the first twenty years of its existence:


Indecorous dancing.

Native customs in foreign lands abhorrent to British ideas.


Incidents injurious to the reputation of Governmental Departments.

Unnecessary exhibitions of feminine underclothing.

The effects of vitriol throwing.

Stories tinctured with salacious wit.

Sensual exposition of eugenic doctrines.


Criminal poisoning by dissemination of germs.

Excessive revolver shooting.

Animals gnawing men and children.

Clutching hands.


Libels on the British nursing profession.

Bolshevik propaganda.

Abdominal contortions in dancing.


Employee selling his wife to employer to cover defalcations.

Severed human heads.

Degrading exhibitions of animal passion.

Indecent wall decorations.

Dangerous mischief, easily imitated by children.

Lecherous old men.

Themes which are likely to wound the just susceptibilities of our Allies.

Comic hanging.

Breaking bottles on men’s heads.


Marriages within the prohibitive degree.

Girls’ clothes pulled off.

The Salvation Army shown in an unfavourable light.

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

6 thoughts on “Pure Unbridled Filth – Some vile things banned by the BBFC

  1. Worm
    October 18, 2013 at 09:52

    “Sensual exposition of eugenic doctrines”

    just trying to imagine what that would look like?

  2. jgslang@gmail.com'
    October 18, 2013 at 09:58

    Much (even all) of this came from the ‘Green Book’ wherein the BBC listed the unspeakable. This volume, which was not abandoned until the 1960s, also offered the admonition: ‘If in doubt – cut it out!’.

    • wormstir@gmail.com'
      October 18, 2013 at 19:55

      ‘The Green Book’ – That would be a good name for one of your tomes, Jonathon..

  3. andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
    October 18, 2013 at 17:12

    Sanctimonious killjoys they may have been, but what vocabulary!

    Have you ever enjoyed a story that wasn’t “tinctured with salacious wit”?

  4. youandpi@aol.com'
    Michael Smith
    October 18, 2013 at 22:45

    Clutching hands

    I’ve always hated clutching hands.

Comments are closed.