If ‘cancel culture’ has taught us anything, it’s that in 2020, there is nowhere to hide your problematic actions and statements – past or present. It’s something the BBC is grappling with, in deciding to remove the TV series Little Britain from streaming platforms like Netflix. Hear all about it below:
According to The Guardian, Little Britain has been removed from Netflix, BritBox and BBC iPlayer due to concerns about the use of blackface by its two leads, David Walliams and Matt Lucas.
Sketches involving blackface haven’t been Little Britain’s only cause for concern since the show first aired in 2003. It’s been heavily criticised over the years for featuring damaging stereotypes and representations of women and disabled people, amongst other problematic characters.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, BBC said, “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.”
Even Little Britain star Matt Lucas regrets some of the ‘jokes’ he made on the show. “If I could go back and do Little Britain again, I wouldn’t make those jokes about transvestites. I wouldn’t play black characters,” he told The Guardian in 2017. “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.”
“Society has moved on a lot since then and my own views have evolved,” he said. “There was no bad intent there – the only thing you could accuse us of was greed. We just wanted to show off about what a diverse bunch of people we could play.”
Whether it was showcasing a ‘diverse bunch of people’ or not, there’s absolutely no denying that Little Britain has not aged well. As Vice’s Angus Harrison wrote in 2018, “what’s staggering re-watching Little Britain now is that it only punched down.”
“The writing process for every sketch seems to have been spinning a wheel of misfortune, landing a vulnerable subject from the most disadvantaged rung of British society and turning them into a cartoon character,” Harrison wrote. “It was a point and laugh job, nothing more.”
The Guardian reports that Walliams and Lucas’ follow-up series Come Fly With Me has also been removed from streaming platforms.
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