Scarborough Council lowers documentary rating to 12A

Steve Arnott in Sean McAllisters A Northern Soul.
Steve Arnott in Sean McAllisters A Northern Soul.

A documentary depicting the struggles of a man in Hull who sets up a mobile bus to teach school children hip-hop will be allowed to be shown to kids in Scarborough after the council lowered its 15 rating.

Scarborough Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee granted A Northern Soul a 12A rating, changing a decision by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

The documentary by the Bafta-nominated filmmaker Sean McAllister was given the higher rating as the BBFC said it contained swearing that “far exceeded” what would be expected for a 12A.

Licensing committees in Hull, Lambeth, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Southampton, Hackney, Bradford and Calderdale had all downgraded A Northern Soul to a 12A and now Scarborough Council has followed suit.

The film follows a factory worker called Steve who struggles to balance surviving and paying his bills with his dream of teaching children hip-hop as part of Hull’s 2017 City of Culture celebrations.

Following a viewing of the documentary at Scarborough Town Hall, committee chairman Cllr Vanda Inman said the three-person panel had found that the language used was in the “expressing of emotion”.

She said: “The strong language is not used in front of children, it was not threatening or aggressive.”

The ruling means that the film can now be shown at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on October 16 to anyone aged over 12 and children under 12 who are accompanied by an adult.

While the BBFC issues guidance on ratings for films, individual councils can set its own classification.