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The King's Speech premieres in London as certificate is lowered

The King's Speech, LFF Premiere

Story by Jack Foley

OSCAR tipped drama The King’s Speech received a star-studded premiere in London on Thursday (October 21, 2010) as part of the ongoing 54th BFI London Film Festival.

Actor Colin Firth, who plays Prince Albert in the historical drama, was joined by Helena Bonham Carter, who plays his wife, and Geoffrey Rush, who plays speech therapist Lionel Logue, were all in attendance along with the film’s director, Tom Hooper.

The red carpet gala screening, held at the Odeon Leicester Square, also attracted a host of celebrities, including Sir Ben Kingsley, singer Will Young, Hugh Dancy, Claire Danes and more.

The film received its premiere just hours after the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) decided to drop the rating of the film from 15 to 12A following an impassioned plea from Hooper and his cast at a press conference held earlier in the day.

The film’s distributors had launched an appeal after it was given the higher rating because of bad language, prompting the BBFC to reconsider its original decision and award the lower rating.

In the movie, King George VI is encouraged by a speech therapist to use strong language – including the ‘F’ word – to overcome a stammer, prompting the BBFC to opt for a 15 certificate.

But speaking at a press conference held to mark the film’s UK premiere, director Hooper said he despaired of a ratings system that allowed scenes of violence to being categorised lower than those involving sexual content or swearing.

He told reporters: “My head is in my hands about it. I go to see Salt where a tube is force fed down Angelina Jolie’s throat and poured water down her throat to simulate drowning – that’s not a problem.”

He also alluded to recent James Bond movie Casino Royale, which includes scenes of a naked James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) being tortured – both of which were given a 12A rating.

And he was backed by Oscar prospect Firth, who added that it would be very interesting “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”.

Upon receiving the appeal, however, the BBFC decided that the language was not aggressive or directed at any person.

On its website, the BBFC said it had “applied its formal reconsideration process to the cinema release and classified it 12A with the consumer advice ‘contains strong language in a speech therapy context’.”

The King’s Speech has been winning widespread praise from festivals around the world. It won the People’s Choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month and is now seen as a strong Oscar contender.

“View photos from the premiere”: