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Children in entertainment: examples of when a performance licence may or may not be required

A licence may be required for

  • Performances that meet the criteria in section 37(2) of the 1963 Act.  These can include: acting, singing, dancing, playing in an orchestra, stand-up comedy, magic act, and any production where the activity is contrived or constructed for dramatic effect.
  • So-called 'reality' television where the activity in which the child participates is manipulated/controlled or directed for the purpose of the entertainment.
  • Presenting or compering (where this has an element of contrived performance).
  • Entertaining or performing where the performance meets any of the criteria under section 37(2) of the Act, for example for a paying audience, on licensed premises, a recording for broadcast or public exhibition.
  • Dancing at a community dance festival or performance that meets any of the criteria set out under section 37(2) of the Act.
  • Photo-shoots and modelling where the child (or someone else in respect of the child's taking part) receives payment.
  • Taking part in a sport where the child (or someone else in respect of the child's taking part) receives payment, other than expenses.

A licence may not be required for

  • Observational documentaries where a child is filmed carrying out normal day to day activities for example playing in the street, participating in an ordinary lesson, training for their sport.
  • Elements of a programme where the child is not being directed but is being observed doing normal activities are treated as observational documentary provided the child is filmed being themselves without direction.
  • Daily news reporting, news reports (including investigations in the public interest, for example testing if shops sell goods to a child underage).
  • Being interviewed as a member of the public; Self-generated content for example a child records themselves and puts that on the internet; Castings and auditions that are not recorded for public exhibition; Being part of an audience (watching a show either in a studio, theatre or stadium).
  • Dance workshops held on the same day of the performance at a different venue. (Practical dance sessions led by a dance teacher or artist.  They may explore an idea or practice some dance movement; they introduce the participants to different dance styles or techniques; and encourage interaction between participants from different schools or groups)
  • Photo-shoots and modelling where no payment is made in respect of the child's participation.
  • Being a ball boy or girl (If they were actually playing football or tennis and payment other than expenses was made then they could well fall within the remit of the child performance legislation.  But they are not playing and therefore we do not think they could be said to be taking part in a performance or a paid sport)


A child used as a stand in (understudy) should be licensed in the same way as the other children in the performance.