06:12 GMT14 August 2020
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    Black Lives Matter Protests Sweep Across Globe Following Death of George Floyd (125)

    Sketch comedy show Little Britain, which was previously criticised for the imitation of characters of other races, was pulled from several streaming services last week amid the heightened global spotlight on racism due to the Black Lives Matter protests triggered by the death of black man George Floyd while in police custody in the US.

    UK actors Matt Lucas and David Walliams have issued an apology for using blackface make-up during some of the sketches in their sketch comedy show Little Britain.

    The comic duo both posted a statement to their Twitter accounts, with Lucas acknowledging that they had publicly regretted having played characters of different ethnic backgrounds over the years.

    ​The two actors underscored their belief that it was wrong of them to have “played characters of other races".

    "Once again, we want to make it clear that it was wrong and we are very sorry," they said in their statements.

    Lucas and Walliams had previously been open about their attitude towards the scenes they played in some of the sketches.

    "If I could go back and do Little Britain again, I wouldn't make those jokes about transvestites. I wouldn't play black characters… Basically, I wouldn't make that show now. It would upset people. We made a more cruel kind of comedy than I'd do now," said Lucas in 2017.

    David Walliams has also gone on record as admitting he would "definitely do it differently" now.

    At the start of the year Lucas revealed that the duo would "love to bring it back in some way and at some point", and suggested a Little Britain stage show as a likely option.

    In some of the comic sketches, Little Britain, which first aired in 2003 and ran for four series until 2008, used blackface make-up. Thus, Walliams used black make-up and an afro wig to play black woman Desiree DeVere, while Lucas used blackface to portray the character Pastor Jesse King.

    Objections to the show resurfaced amid the current anti-racism protests spearheaded by the Black Lives matter movement, sweeping a number of countries in the wake of the death of African American man George Floyd in police detention in the US. The programme was removed from BBC iPlayer, Netflix, NOW TV and BritBox on 8 June.

    Netflix took the show off its platform along with the duo’s other comedy, Come Fly With Me.

    The show, which aired in 2010, had come in for its share of complaints for its portrayal of racially stereotyped characters and use of blackface.

    The use of black make-up to depict a black person, is widely considered an offensive practice with a racist history in the United States.

    "There's a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer, which we regularly review. Times have changed since Little Britain first aired so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer," a BBC was quoted as saying.

    The comic duo’s apology on Twitter sparked a heated debate among netizens, who were split in their reactions.

    Some posted their appreciation of the move by the actors.

    ​However, others felt the apology was too much, and underscored the need to appreciate “innocent humour”.

    Black Lives Matter Protests Sweep Across Globe Following Death of George Floyd (125)


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