FLOELLA BENJAMIN, broadcaster and producer: The idea of blacking-up is shameful and the stereotype of black people as merely simple singers and dancers is demeaning and offensive. If people want to see black people perform they should see the real thing.

DARCUS HOWE, presenter, Channel 4's Devil's Advocate: Blacking up is an offensive anachronism and adds absolutely nothing to the contemporary cultural scene. To have blacks in the show seems the ultimate in bad taste to me, as a black person. And not blacking-up is doubly offensive, because it shows they know it shouldn't be done at all. The show treats us as if we were insensitive monkeys.

JOHN REDGRAVE, producer and director, Black and White Minstrel Show: This is the most racially harmonious show there is, with a 50-50 split between black and white. It's very popular because it's a jolly good laugh. People go for the entertainment, not to poke fun at others.

ROBERT LUFF, co-presenter with George Mitchell of original Black and White Minstrel Show 1960-86: In 1986, in view of the ethnic problem - people were very insulted, very annoyed - I decided never to do it again in that form. We didn't say or do anything that was offensive to black people but if I did it now I would do it with West Indian girls and white boys.

LES WANT, original minstrel, currently starring as Al Jolson: There are no racist lyrics in this show; I finish by singing the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic', a freedom song of the black people of the South. There are two black kids in this show who are getting their Equity cards from it. It's a big break for them.

PATIENCE KIRBY, pensioner: I remember enjoying the show when it was on the television. We never thought of it as racial, we knew it was just people dressing up, like pantomime. But if people are going to think it's insulting then they shouldn't paint their faces up. It's not really so important anyway - the songs and costumes and dancing make the show, don't they?

TONY SHEPHERD, theatre press officer: It's crass. We live in a multi-cultural, multi-racial society and there's no room for the Black and White Minstrels. As for saying it's just entertainment, so was bear-baiting and throwing the Christians to the lions. If the BBC decide to reprogramme it I will refuse to pay my TV licence.

(Photograph omitted)

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