Belfast Telegraph

Bonneville bemused by rating fuss

Paddington star Hugh Bonneville said his performance as a cleaning lady in the film was "frightening maybe, but not entirely sexual" after the film received a PG rating.

The new Paddington film's parental guidance (PG) certificate was given for sexual references and dangerous behaviour - to the surprise of the famous bear's creator Michael Bond.

Hugh, who has a featuring role in the film said to the BBC: "I think the rating is perfectly appropriate. I think it's slightly odd to talk about sexual references which actually refers to me dressed as a cleaning lady, which is frightening maybe, but not entirely sexual.

"But to be joining the ranks of Elf and Toy Story which were PG ratings is entirely appropriate. I think it is perfectly watchable for children under the age of eight."

The actor added he did not think those under the age limit "were barred from it". He said: "I saw it with some five-year-olds the other day and the only danger they had was wetting themselves laughing."

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) initially explained to cinema-goers in its consumer advice that the film featured "dangerous behaviour, mild threat, mild sex references (and) mild bad language".

However, it later had a change of heart after the film's distributor expressed its unease with the description, which was amended just hours later.

The BBFC went on to clarify that the swearing was "infrequent" and substituted "innuendo" for "mild sex references".

Paul King, the film's director, said: "I think it's only right that small children have a little parental guidance." Though he referred to the reaction as "a storm in a teacup".

However Hugh said: "I challenge any viewer... who has been offended by the film to get in touch... I will give them this lovely marmalade book by Sarah Randell."

Bonneville described the film as "no more worrying than seeing a pantomime dame or indeed Twelfth Night".

The bear's 88-year-old creator Michael Bond, who chronicled Paddington's adventures in a series of popular books, had still to see the film by the time it was given its certificate, but he was surprised by the classification advice.

The writer, who makes a cameo appearance in the film, told the Daily Mail: "I'm totally amazed."

"I'd be very upset. I might not sleep well tonight. I can't imagine what the sex references are. It doesn't enter into it with the books, certainly," he said.

The "infrequent scenes of dangerous behaviour" in the film refer to Paddington hiding in a fridge while "mild threat" was seen when a villain "threatens to kill and stuff" the famous bear.

Ben Whishaw voices the Peruvian bear in the live-action film, which also features starring roles for Mr Bonneville, Peter Capaldi and Nicole Kidman.

Ben replaced Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington after The King's Speech star quit, saying he was having trouble finding the voice of the marmalade-loving bear.

Bond's books have sold 35 million copies worldwide since they were first published in 1958.

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