From 2002 to 2009, Francis starred in the surreal Channel 4 sketch show, during which he impersonated famous people, including black celebrities Craig David and Trisha Goddard, while wearing large latex masks.
With protests currently taking place across the world for the Black Lives Matter movement, comedian Francis shared an emotional video on Instagram on Thursday (4 June) explaining that he’d been on a “learning journey” over the last week.
‘Hi, my name is Leigh Francis and I play a character called Keith Lemon on television,” said Francis, who is now best known for his work on ITV2’s Celebrity Juice. “It’s been a weird few days, it’s been a weird few days, and I’ve sat and thought about things and what I could post to try and help things.
“Back in 2002 I did a show called Bo’ Selecta and portrayed many black people. Back then, I didn’t think anything about it, people didn’t say anything. I’m not going to blame it on other people.”
He continued: “I’ve been talking to some people and I didn’t realise how offensive it was back then and I just want to apologise.
‘I just want to say sorry for any upset I caused, whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David, Trisha Goddard, all people that I’m a big fan of. I guess we’re all on a learning journey.”
The video was captioned: “Following recent events, I’ve done a lot of talking and learning and I would like to put this out there. I want to apologise to anyone that was offended by Bo’ Selecta. I’m on a constant journey of knowledge and just wanted to say I’m deeply sorry. #blacklivesmatter.”
Last week, US TV host Jimmy Fallon also apologised after a clip of him wearing blackface on Saturday Night Live re-emerged on the internet.