Little Britain removes blackface character from BBC iPlayer to 'better reflect changes in the cultural landscape'

The comedy series from Matt Lucas and David Walliams was removed from various services including Netflix and BritBox in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests

Published

The BBC has returned Little Britain to iPlayer after its creators made edits to “better reflect the changes in the cultural landscape” since the show first aired 20 years ago.

The comedy series from Matt Lucas and David Walliams was removed from various services including Netflix and BritBox in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams.
Matt Lucas and David Walliams.

It had faced criticism because of the use of blackface make-up in some sketches.

A BBC spokesman said: “Little Britain has been made available to fans on BBC iPlayer following edits made to the series by Matt and David that better reflect the changes in the cultural landscape over the last 20 years since the show was first made.”

Lucas and Walliams have both previously apologised for their use of blackface on the show, which began as a radio programme in 2000 before running as a TV series on the BBC between 2003 and 2007, launching their respective careers.

(From left to right) Russell Brand, David Walliams and Matt Lucas in a special Comic Relief performance of the Little Britain stage show at the Hammersmith Apollo in west London.
(From left to right) Russell Brand, David Walliams and Matt Lucas in a special Comic Relief performance of the Little Britain stage show at the Hammersmith Apollo in west London.

The said in a joint statement on Twitter in June 2020: “Once again we want to make it clear that it was wrong; we are very sorry.”

In the series, Walliams sported black make-up and a large afro wig to play the overweight black woman Desiree DeVere.

Lucas also used blackface to play Pastor Jesse King, who said he was “from the ghetto” and spoke in tongues to cure the sick.

In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests prompted by the killing of George Floyd, stars including Ant and Dec and Leigh Francis also apologised for portraying black people on TV.

Lucas previously said he has regrets about Little Britain, describing the comedy as “cruel”.

Representatives of Lucas and Walliams have been contacted for further comment.