'Squid Game' is most complained about BBFC age rating of 2021

A still from the hit Netflix show Squid Game (Netflix)
Squid Game's 15 rating drew complaints. (Netflix)

Squid Game was the most complained about age rating by the British Board of Film Classification in 2021, its annual report has revealed.

The BBFC received 11 complaints about Netflix's South Korean horror series Squid Game, which sees contestants fight to the death over a huge cash prize, and was rated 15.

Read more: BBFC's most complained about age ratings of 2021

Defending the 15 rating, the BBFC said: "Our research has shown that violence occurring within a real-world setting registers more strongly with viewers than that which is clearly stylised or fantastical.

"Squid Game largely takes place within a fantastical game show rather than a real-world setting.

Squid Game
Squid Game included some notoriously violent scenes. (Netflix)

"We viewed the series as part of our audit process and agreed with the 15 classification assigned by Netflix as the violent scenes do not dwell on the infliction of pain and injury in a manner that may require an 18 classification."

According to the BBFC's annual report, 91% of parents and 95% of teenagers now want to see the same age ratings that are applied in cinemas and to DVDs on online content.

Read more: Gary Lineker becomes only BBC on-air talent to earn more than £1million

The organisation already works with streaming services and platforms including Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, YouTube Movies and Rakuten TV, among others to provide guidance on what age their programmes and films are suitable for.

In 2021 the BBFC classified 5,431 video submissions; 1,891 online submissions; 659 theatrical films; and 104 music videos, the report states.

Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad drew 10 complaints over age rating. (Warner Bros)

At the close of 2021, 27 Video on Demand (VOD) platforms were licensed to display BBFC age ratings in the UK on a voluntary, best practice basis.

Through these industry partnerships, the BBFC provided age ratings for more than 17,673 pieces of VOD content, equating to 811,178 minutes.

One of the BBFC's high-profile agreements is with streaming giant Netflix, and the report highlighted that their long-term commitment to working together meant that subscribers would see age ratings on Netflix content for years to come.

Read more: Sir Mo Farah documentary - the five biggest revelations

The BBFC added that complaints about their age ratings were slightly up over the last year, with 109 complaints in 2021 compared to 93 in 2020.

Aaron Larway's design that won the Jurassic World Dominion Black Card competition. (BBFC/Universal)
Aaron Larway's design that won the Jurassic World Dominion Black Card competition. (BBFC/Universal)

David Austin, chief executive of the BBFC, said: “After another difficult start to the year with Covid-19 restrictions, I am proud of everything we have achieved in 2021 to help parents and families choose content well.

“Alongside the wider recovery of the cinema industry, it has been especially encouraging to see a significant rise in our trusted age ratings online.

“Our research shows that UK families want to see the same ratings that they recognise from their local cinema when watching films and TV shows online, so it is reassuring that platforms are working with us to ensure this demand is met.

“Now in our 110th year, we continue to deliver more of our trusted and well-understood age ratings from cinemas to streaming platforms across the UK to help families choose content that’s right for them.”

Watch: Fans point out the twisted irony of Netflix's new Squid Game reality competition series