Matt Lucas and David Walliams have apologised for using blackface make-up during some sketches in Little Britain.
They both posted a statement to their Twitter accounts, with Lucas writing: “David and I have both spoken publicly in recent years of our regret that we played characters of other races. Once again we want to make it clear that it was wrong and we are very sorry.”
The programme has been pulled from several catch-up and streaming services – including NOW TV, Britbox and BBC iPlayer – amid the heightened global spotlight on racism that has been spearheaded by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Little Britain has long been criticised for its portrayal of black and Asian characters by the white comedians, as well as gay characters and those with disabilities.
They include an obese Caribbean woman called Desiree, for which Walliams wore blackface, and a mail-order bride named Ting Tong. Others included Daffyd – “the only gay in the village” – and Andy, who was in a wheelchair.
David and I have both spoken publicly in recent years of our regret that we played characters of other races. Once again we want to make it clear that it was wrong and we are very sorry.
— realmattlucas (@RealMattLucas) June 13, 2020
The BBC said it decided to remove the show as “times have changed” since the comedy first aired in 2003.
Walliams and Lucas’s other series, Come Fly With Me, which also featured blackface, has also been removed.
The stars have both said previously that they would make Little Britain differently today.
It joined a string of shows that have been entirely or partially taken off catch-up and streaming services.
Fawlty Towers has had one of its episodes temporarily removed from UKTV over “racial slurs” and “outdated language”.
NOW TV, Netflix and Sky have all removed the The League of Gentlemen, which aired on the BBC between 1999 and 2002. One character played by Shearsmith, Papa Lazarou, wore blackface.
Channel 4 has pulled Bo’ Selecta from their streaming service after Leigh Francis apologised for playing characters in blackface.
Episodes of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly’s Saturday Night Takeaway show have disappeared from ITV’s online catch-up service, with the stars saying they had taken steps to ensure the footage was removed. In 2004, they dressed up as two Japanese girls.
The Paramount Network removed long-running US TV show Cops at the end of May after its theme tune, reggae song Bad Boys, came under fire for glorifying police aggression.
As the issue of systemic police racism in the US was brought into the spotlight following the death of George Floyd, the Paramount Network removed the show from air at the end of May, with no plans for it to return.