'Little Britain' Pulled From Netflix, U.K. Streaming Services For Use Of Blackface

Little Britainone of the most popular BBC shows when it premiered in 2003, remains widely unknown outside of the U.K. But it will likely be remembered for its notoriety now, as the sketch comedy series written by and starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams has been pulled from streaming on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Britbox over its use of blackface.Variety reports that Netflix has joined U.K. streaming services BBC iPlayer and Britbox in pulling Little Britain from its platform amid concerns over the sketch comedy's use of blackface. Netflix has also dropped Lucas and Walliams' airport mockumentary Come Fly With Me.

A BBC spokesman told Variety following the show's removal from BBC iPlayer and Britbox:

"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."

The removal of Little Britain comes in the wake of increased discussions over systemic racism and diversity sparked by the killing of George Floyd, which has led to a string of Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests across the world. Along with law enforcement, people have been taking to task the entertainment industry, which has long fallen behind in pay equity and representation of minorities. Retrograde shows like Little Britain which use blackface, a denigrating style of performance mired in historical prejudices, will likely be the first to deservedly be taken to task.

Aside from stars Matt Lucas, who has gone on to appear in Hollywood blockbusters such as Alice in Wonderland, and David Walliams, you would probably find few non-British viewers who know of Little Britain, which first aired in 2003. But the duo were successful enough to create Come Fly With Me, a mockumentary comedy series that debuted in 2010 and still saw the two of them playing characters of different ethnic backgrounds.

This is disappointing to learn of, especially for Lucas, who in addition to carving out a career in Hollywood and recently becoming a host on The Great British Bake-Off, was a delightful surprise to watch in the 10th season of Doctor Who. But Lucas had recently expressed regret for playing Black characters in Little Britain, telling Big Issue magazine in 2017, "I wouldn't make that show now. It would upset people. 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."

However, Netflix was reportedly in discussions with Walliams and Lucas as recently as this year to revive Little Britain. Those discussions are likely now dead in the wake of this news.