Little Britain removed from BBC iPlayer, Netflix and more due to its abhorrent use of Blackface

Little Britain removed from BBC iPlayer and Netflix due to use of Blackface

Little Britain, the award-winning rapid-fire sketch show, has been pulled from all British streaming platforms due to concerns about the use of belittling Blackface by its two stars, David Walliams and Matt Lucas.

The show, which aired from 2003 to 2005, trafficked in racially-charged humour with its heavy use of prosthetics, drag, fat suits, thick layers of make-up or all of the above.

Its pantheon of characters ranged from a patronizing leader of a Weight Watchers-like organisation, a Thai bride called “Ting Tong”, to Desiree DeVere, a Black woman played by Walliams in full Blackface.

And as back-catalogue shows face renewed criticism in the throes of the Black Lives Matter protests, Walliams and Lucas’ vocal support for demonstrations has seen critics poke holes in their advocacy. Many noting how the actors were performing comedy routines just a decade prior in Blackface.

As a result, the BBC confirmed to the Daily Mail that the show alongside the pair’s other series, Come Fly With Me, was stripped from BBC iPlayer Monday (June 9).

It follows Netflix that ditched both shows last Friday (June 4). Britbox, the streaming service from ITV and BBC, also said it will take the shows off, too.

Little Britain use of Blackface not keeping with the ‘times’, says major British streamers. 

A BBC spokesperson 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.”

Britbox echoed: “Times have changed since Little Britain first aired, so it is not currently available on BritBox.

Come Fly With Me has not been available on the service for six months.”

Come Fly With Me has similarly simmered with criticism since it aired in 2010. The mockumentary about the lives of various airport staffers saw Lucas play an overweight Jamaican woman called Precious.

Lucas, 46, has previously expressed his “regret” at Little Britain‘s use of Blackface alongside anti-trans jokes, describing it more than a decade on as a “cruel kind of comedy”.

Nevertheless, the comedian teamed-up with Walliams in April 2020 for a revival of the “I’m a lady” sketch. It saw the duo play Emily and Florence, two transvestites who attempt – and fail – to pass as high-society ladies for BBC’s Big Night In.

The new routine saw Walliams and Lucas throw on ringleted wigs made of toilet roll holders and crude, bottom shelf makeup to recreate the roles from home.

While Walliams did not revive DeVere for the reprisal, the transphobic roles got the green light, we guess.