Ant and Dec apologise for wearing blackface on Saturday Night Takeaway

Statement comes after Little Britain was removed from streaming services due to the show's frequent use of blackface

Roisin O'Connor
Wednesday 10 June 2020 19:24 BST
Jimmy Fallon says he was advised to stay quiet amid blackface controversy

Ant and Dec have apologised for past sketches on Saturday Night Takeaway in which they wore blackface and yellowface.

The comedy duo have previously portrayed black and Asian people on the entertainment show, later admitting it was “wrong” to do so when the clips resurfaced and received criticism.

In 2003, they appeared in a sketch as two Jamaican women in an attempt to prank Emmerdale cast members. During the prank, Ant and Dec pretended to be extras causing trouble in a scene filmed in the Woolpack pub.

In 2004, they impersonated Japanese girls who were obsessed with Coronation Street’s Todd Grimshaw, to trick the cast of the ITV soap.

To become “Suki and Keiko”, Ant and Dec they used prosthetics and exaggerated Japanese accents for the skit. While pronouncing “Roy’s Rolls”, they said “Loy’s Lolls”.

(Rex Features
(Rex Features (Rex Features)

In a statement posted to their official Twitter account, the duo have now issued a formal apology.

“During past episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway, we impersonated people of colour in the undercover segment of the show,” the statement reads.

“We realise that this was wrong and want to say that we are sincerely sorry to everyone that was offended.

“We purposely stopped doing this several years ago and certainly would not make these sketches today.”

They continued: “We had already taken steps to ensure footage was taken down, and have again recently confirmed with ITV that these segments, and any other historical content that could cause offence, does not appear on either the ITV hub or the Saturday Night Takeaway YouTube channel.”

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The statement follows the news that sketch show Little Britain has been removed from BBC iPlayer, Brit Box and Netflix due to the prominent use of blackface and yellowface in a number of sketches.

A spokesperson for the 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.”

In May, a Little Britain sketch for the BBC’s Big Night In drew 180 complaints, specifically a joke in which a character said he wanted to eat a bat – itself a reference to conspiracy theories about the origins of coronavirus.

In 2017, Lucas said that a Little Britain reboot would have to be radically different as it would “upset a lot of people” if it came back exactly the same. He acknowledged that the show made jokes that would no longer be acceptable.

A number of celebrities, TV shows and other popular culture have come under scrutiny in the wake of ongoing international protests against systematic racism.

Jimmy Fallon recently said that he was “horrified and embarrassed” after a clip of him wearing blackface in 2000 resurfaced, and that he wanted to address it despite being advised to “stay silent”.

“That’s the advice because we’re all afraid,” he said. “I realised that I can’t not say I’m horrified and I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed. I realised that the silence is the biggest crime that white guys like me and the rest of us are doing, staying silent. We need to say something. We need to keep saying something.”

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