The onscreen wife of Bill Cosby has spoken out in defence of her former co-star in the face of a series of high-profile sexual offence allegations against the comedian.
Phylicia Rashad, who played Cosby's wife in The Cosby Show, described the allegations as part of an attempt to keep the 77-year-old off TV.
Speaking to Showbiz 411, Ms Rashad said: “Forget these women. What you're seeing is the destruction of a legacy.”
Ms Rashad said she did not know who would conduct such a campaign, but added: “Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV, and it’s worked. All his contracts have been cancelled.“
Cosby has called for fans to remain calm in the event of protests as he prepared to return to the stage for the first time since November, with three performances in Canada.
The comedian has faced an increasing public backlash following numerous allegations that he drugged and sexually assaulted women dating back to the Seventies.
Since November, at least 15 women have come forward with claims against Cosby, who has never been charged in connection with the allegations. His lawyer has described the allegations as "decades old" and "discredited".
Bill Cosby: Career in pictures
Bill Cosby: Career in pictures
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Winner of his first Emmy for 'I Spy' is Bill Cosby being congratulated by his wife Camille held at Americana Hotel, 1966
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Bill Cosby in 'I Spy', 1960s
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Bill Cosby in July 1973 in Perth
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Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor in 'California Suite', 1978
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Bill Cosby and Elmo in Sesame Street, 1989
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Bill Cosby poses for a picture with Florence Griffith-Joyner in June 1989
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Comedian Bill Cosby back in 1992
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A scene from a 1992 episode of 'The Cosby Show'
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US Monica Seles breaks into laughter as she jokes with comedian Bill Cosby during a celebrity match in the stadium at the US Open for the Arthur Ashe AIDS Challenge on 27 August 1995
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Bill Cosby meets Toronto Blue Jays' All-Star Joe Carter after the Stars played the Stripes in the Celebrity All-Star game which preceded workouts for the 67th All-Star Game at Veterans Stadium on 8 July 1996 in Philadephia
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Co-hosts Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby joke with each other during the opening of the 2000 Essence Awards 14 April 2000 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City
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Bill Cosby jokes with baseball great Hank Aaron after they both received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award from U.S. President George W. Bush during a ceremony on 9 July 2002 at the White House in Washington
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Bill Cosby poses backstage after winning the 'Bob Hope Humanitarian Award' during the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on 21 September 2003 in Los Angeles
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'Tonight Show' host Jay Leno and comedian Bill Cosby laugh during a surprise visit by Cosby to sign a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that Leno is using to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina at NBC studios on 9 September 2005 in Burbank, California
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Bill Cosby speaks during a taping of 'Meet the Press' at the NBC studios on 14 October 2007 in Washington
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Bill Cosby at the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the John F. Kennedy Center on 26 October 2009 in Washington
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Bill Cosby speaks at the National Action Network's 20th annual Keepers of the Dream Awards gala in New York on 6 April 2011
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Bill Cosby during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows supporting the Motion Picture & Television Fund and the American Comedy Fund, 2012
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Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 25th Awards Gala on 11 November 2013 in Washington
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Bill Cosby performs at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on 26 September 2014 in Las Vegas
Cosby has seen a TV project halted and at least 10 standup comedy tour performances cancelled or indefinitely postponed in the wake of the allegations.
He is now due to perform in Kitchener, Ontario, on 7 January, London, Ontario, on 8 January, and Hamilton, Ontario, on 9 January.
Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women's Centre, has reportedly said a demonstration will take place outside the London venue.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne meanwhile has said she would not attend any of the shows, because of the “very serious” allegations.Reuse content