Matt Lucas Controversy: David Walliams and Matt Lucas Apologise for Little Britain Blackface
Both David Walliams and Matt Lucas, who co-created the sketch programme Little Britain, have issued public apologies for their racist portrayal of a black character.
In nearly identical statements made to Twitter, the two comedians expressed regret over their portrayals of “characters of various races.”
Following the heightened emphasis on issues of race and representation in the wake of global anti-racism rallies in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the show has been removed from streaming providers like BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
In subsequent years, both David and I have expressed public sorrow over our portrayal of non-white characters. A second time, “we want to make it obvious that that was wrong and we are extremely sorry,” Lucas tweeted.
Characters played by Lucas and David Walliams, such as an overweight Caribbean woman named Desiree DeVere, depicted in blackface, and a “portly Thai bride” named Ting Tong, have long been criticised for their representation of LGBT and disabled characters, as well as the show’s usage of blackface.
The BBC stated, “things have changed” since Little Britain’s initial broadcast in 2003, justifying its decision to withdraw the show from its catch-up service. Six months ago, ITV and the BBC’s joint streaming service BritBox withdrew the pair’s previous comedy series, Come Fly With Me, which first aired in 2010 and also contained blackface.
The new presenter of Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off, Matt Lucas Lucas, has previously voiced concern for the show’s treatment of some characters, calling it “lazy” to “get a chuckle solely by portraying black characters.”
No way would I ever make transvestite jokes if I had the chance to redo Little Britain. When asked about playing black characters, he answered, “No way,” in a 2017 interview with the Big Issue. Simply said, I wouldn’t produce that programme at the moment. A lot of people would be disturbed by that. We created a more savage form of humour than I would attempt today.
The renewed anti-racism movement has caused many shows to be reevaluated, not only Little Britain.
After being banned from the BBC’s streaming service for featuring “racist insults,” an episode of the 1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers was restored on Friday. There will be advice and a warning about the “possibly offensive content and language” in the “Don’t mention the war” episode, though.
Comedian Leigh Francis, better known as Keith Lemon, publicly apologised last week for his show Bo’ Selecta!, which featured sketches with famous black people.
Although Francis “didn’t think anything about it” at the moment, he has “done a lot of talking and learning” since then. I didn’t know how offensive it was at the time,” he remarked.