The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has appointed journalist and TV presenter Natasha Kaplinsky OBE as its new president. She will replace long-time leader Patrick Swaffer, who steps down after 10 years.
Formed in 1912, the BBFC is an independent, non-governmental and not-for-profit organization that is tasked with classifying films, video tapes, discs and online content.
Kaplinsky — a former studio anchor for the BBC, Sky, ITV and Channel 5 — will take up the new position in October. As president, she will join the board and chair the Board of Classification, which is responsible for overseeing all matters relating to classification. The board meets on a monthly basis.
Kaplinsky will also chair the BBFC’s Advisory Council on Children’s Viewing (APCV), which was established in 1999 and meets three times a year. The APCV advises the BBFC on issues concerning children and young people.
The BBFC president brings independence to difficult cases and policy issues, and works closely with external stakeholders across Westminster, Whitehall and the media.
In the role, Kaplinsky will also be championing year-round education and outreach activity, and will be meeting with the BBFC Youth Panel in the coming months. She’ll work closely with chief executive David Austin.
Throughout her career, Kaplinsky has held roles across the public, private and non-profit sectors. She is currently president of Barnardo’s and an Ambassador for Save the Children. In December 2020, she founded the U.K. Women’s Network, giving women and girls the opportunity to leverage their talents and resources. She is also patron for a number of charities, including The Bevern Trust, a charity that cares for young adults with learning difficulties.
The presenter was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2017 Birthday Honours List for services to Holocaust Commemoration. In 2014, she became a member of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, and in 2015, she was appointed by the Prime Minister to the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation advisory board.
Kaplinsky said: “The BBFC is accountable to the government, parliament, local authorities, and to people across the U.K. It is clear that it takes its accountability seriously, alongside the impartial nature of its role. For over a century, the BBFC has done fantastic work to help families have a positive viewing experience, wherever and however they watch content. It’s crucial that children’s welfare is at the forefront of policy decision-making and this is central to the BBFC’s efforts in the Online Safety space. I am really excited to bring my knowledge and experience to help guide the BBFC in its 110th year and beyond. The challenges that young people face now in the U.K. are greater than ever before – and I am committed to giving voice to their needs.”
Austin added: “[Natasha] brings a wealth of expertise and a profound understanding of our core audience of parents, carers and families. With Natasha at the helm, I am looking forward to seeing how the business will continue to evolve to improve our offer to meet the needs of our industry partners and U.K. audiences. The influence, media insight, and vision that she will bring will really help to shape the future of the BBFC.”
He added: “I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Patrick for his invaluable and long-lasting contributions across his ten years as president and the support he has given me as CEO.”
Swaffer, outgoing president of the org, said: “As I reflect on the last decade, I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved. The modernisation of the organisation, particularly with the introduction of our cloud-based compliance platform, Horizon, has enabled us to work more flexibly and effectively than ever before. Public trust in the BBFC remains extremely high and as a result we have seen our widely recognised age ratings extend beyond our statutory responsibilities; as encouraged by the government in their response to the consultation on audience protection standards on VOD services. We now work with 29 online U.K. services to provide age ratings for content on a voluntary best practice basis, which is a remarkable achievement. As we look ahead, Natasha is the perfect candidate to lead the BBFC through what I’m sure will be yet another transformational phase fully supported by David and the excellent staff at the BBFC who have made my time as president such a pleasure.”