Little Britain, the hit British sketch comedy series, has been removed from streaming services here due to concerns of racism.
As of Thursday (June 11), Little Britain is no longer available on BBC Player, while its spin-off, Little Britain USA, has been yanked from HBO Go on Wednesday night.
Both shows featured stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams wearing blackface and brownface make-up to play characters of different ethnicities, like African socialite Desiree DeVere, Sanjit the Indian plumber and Thai bride Ting Tong. (FYI: Growing Up’s Steven Lim had a small role as Ting Tong’s brother.)
A spokesperson for WarnerMedia, which owns HBO Go, tells 8days.sg, “Any ethnic and racial prejudices would be counter to WarnerMedia’s values. If we come across content that might be seen as offensive in that sense, we will review it and consider appropriate action.”
A BBC Studios spokesperson from the Singapore office said, "There’s a lot of historical programming available on BBC Player, which we regularly review, and as such Little Britain has been removed from BBC Player."
HBO Go and BBC Player’s move follows the removal of Little Britain from Netflix, BritBox and BBC iPlayer in the UK. Netflix also dropped another Lucas/Walliams comedy, the airport-set Come Fly with Me, which also featured a blackface character.
A BBC spokesperson told The Telegraph newspaper that “times have changed” since Little Britain first aired in 2003.
The decision to ditch Little Britain comes amid global protests against racism and police brutality that have put TV shows and movies under scrutiny following the killing of George Floyd in the United States.
Elsewhere, the 1939 Civil War epic Gone with the Wind has been taken off HBO Max following calls for it to be removed from the streaming service. HBO Max said the Oscar-winning film was “a product of its time” and depicted “ethnic and racial prejudices” that “were wrong then and are wrong today.”
It added that the film would return to the platform at an unspecified date with a "discussion of its historical context".
It’s the same reason why Disney isn’t offering its 1946 film Song of the South, which features racial stereotypes, on Disney+. Executive chairman Bob Iger said “it was just not appropriate in today’s world.”
That said, what is Disney going to do about about the early episodes of The Simpsons featuring Apu, the Indian character voiced by Hank Azaria?