Mary Poppins age rating changed from ‘U’ to ‘PG’ over ‘discriminatory language’ sixty years after release

26 February 2024, 07:56

The 1964 film has had its age rating changed after sixty years
The 1964 film has had its age rating changed after sixty years. Picture: Shutterstock/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Mary Poppins has had its age rating lifted from a U to a PG by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) nearly sixty years after its release.

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The age rating of the Julie Andrews 1964 classic has been lifted due to the presence of 'discriminatory language'.

The change relates to the use of the word 'Hottentots' in the film, a derogatory term used by white Europeans to described the Khoikhoi in the 17th century.

Mary Poppins (1964)
Mary Poppins (1964). Picture: Alamy

In the film, Reginald Owen's character, Admiral Boom, uses the word twice when he asks one of the children if they were going to "fight the Hottentots".

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Then, when chimney sweeps with soot-covered faces are seen by the Admiral, he claims they are being "attacked by the Hottentots" before threatening to hit them with fireworks.

As a result, the film has been classified to have "some scenes [that] may be unsuitable for young children".

Julie Andrews in the classic Mary Poppins movie
Julie Andrews in the classic Mary Poppins movie. Picture: Alamy

The BBFC said: "We understand from our racism and discrimination research... that a key concern for... parents is the potential to expose children to discriminatory language or behaviour which they may find distressing or repeat without realising the potential offence."

It added: "Content with immediate and clear condemnation is more likely to receive a lower rating."

Film ratings can be moved up or down by the BBFC due to a variety of factors.

For example, Ratatoullie was changed from a U to a PG due to some “comic violence, mild bad language”.