Keith Lemon actor Leigh Francis has apologised for playing black people in his 2000s Channel 4 show, Bo’ Selecta.
Using masks, the white actor created exaggerated versions of Michael Jackson, Craig David and Mel B. Leigh says that when the show started, in 2002 he “didn’t think anything about it.”
In the show, white stars like Kelly Osbourne, Elton John and Lorraine Kelly were also portrayed in a similar way.
Leigh’s apology was prompted, he says, by “a weird few days.”
Since 25 May 2020, Black Lives Matter protests have been taking place across the world.
These have been in response to the killing of unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis.
‘I just want to apologise’
“I’ve sat and thought about things and what I could post to try and help things,” Leigh says in a video posted to Instagram.
“People didn’t say anything. I’m not going to blame other people,” he says.
“I’ve been talking to some people and I didn’t realise how offensive it was back then and I just want to apologise.”
He says he is a “big fan” of all the people he was playing in his show.
“I guess we’re all on a learning journey.”
Some people, including ex-premiership footballer John Barnes, have said that characters on Bo’ Selecta weren’t problematic.
There have also been some calls on social media for white actors David Walliams and Matt Lucas to apologise for the black and non-white characters they portrayed in their TV shows from the same era.
Matt Lucas said last year that if Little Britain were to return, he and Walliams would not play black characters.
“I wouldn’t make that show now,” he told The Big Issue in 2019.
“We made a more cruel kind of comedy than I’d do now. Society has moved on a lot since then, and my own views have evolved.”
Earlier in 2020, there were more than 180 complaints following The Big Night In, which included a Little Britain sketch.