Belfast Telegraph

Paddington author surprised by PG

Scenes showing cross-dressing flirtation and a villainous taxidermist have contributed to the new Paddington film being given a parental guidance (PG) certificate - to the surprise of the famous bear's creator.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) initially explained to cinemagoers 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".

Film companies often feel their movie's chances at the box office can be harmed if family audiences are discouraged by the descriptions.

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.

Among the "mild sex references" - later revised to "innunendo" - is a "comic sequence in which a man disguised as a woman is flirted with by another man".

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

Whishaw 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.

The film sees Paddington despatched from his native jungle and smuggled on board a boat to England.

Recent children's films which have been awarded a universal (U) certificate include The Lego Movie, Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University while Frozen (mild threat) and How To Train Your Dragon 2 (mild violence and threat) were awarded a PG certificate.

Announcing the revised consumer "insight" advice, the BBFC said it had made the amendments after the distributor asked for it to be reconsidered.

It now reads: "dangerous behaviour, mild threat, innuendo, infrequent mild bad language".

In a statement, the BBFC added: "The content in the film goes beyond the BBFC guidelines at U and the distributor was content with the PG certificate for the film."

Changes to guidelines last year resulted in the body being tougher on bad language at the U level as a result of public consultations.

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

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