Ant and Dec issue apology for controversial blackface disguises on Saturday Night Takeaway

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ANT McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have issued an apology for using blackface disguises on their ITV prime time show Saturday Night Takeaway.

The presenting duo issued the joint statement on their social media accounts on Wednesday, as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to spark discussions around race.

Ant and Dec wore ‘blackface’ in old sketches on Saturday Night Takeaway

In the statement, Ant, and Dec, both 44, said: “During past episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway we impersonated people of colour in the undercover segment of the show.

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

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

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steps to ensure footage was taken down and have again recently confirmed with ITV that these segments, and any other historical content, that could cause offence, does not appear on either the ITV Hub or the Saturday Night Takeaway YouTube channel.”

Ant and Dec have apologised to fans for the scenes
The statement was released on their shared social media accounts

The Geordie duo regularly go undercover in the family-friendly show, wearing prosthetics and disguises to trick celebrities as well as members of the public.

Grabs from one of their 2003 sketches recently resurfaced online, showing Ant and Dec dressed up as Jamaican women Patty and Bernice as they appeared as extras on the set of Emmerdale.

The pair previously reminisced about the sketch, laughing as they recalled waking up at 2am in order to transform into the offensive characters.

Ant and Dec pretended to be Jamaican extras on the set of Emmerdale
They previously laughed as they recalled filming the episode

The decision to axe the controversial episodes from air comes after Little Britain and Come Fly With Me were removed from Netflix, BBC iPlayer and BritBox due to the use of blackface characters.

Both series starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams are no longer available to watch on the online streaming sites amid the Black Lives Matter protests.

BBC and BritBox confirmed the TV shows have been taken down, telling viewers: “Times have changed.”

In Little Britain – which aired from 2003 to 2007 – Walliams wore make up to play spa guest Desiree DeVere.

 David Walliams and Matt Lucas used blackface in Little Britain and Come Fly With Me
Episodes of Little Britain have also been removed
 Matt plays Precious Little in Little Britain
Matt Lucas as one of the offensive characters

 

He also dressed up to play passenger liaison officer Moses Beacon and airline boss Omar Baba in In Come Fly With Me, which launched in 2010.

 

A BBC spokesman added: ‘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.”

 

Also this week, the comedian who plays TV host Keith Lemon was forced into a tearful apology by talk show host Trisha Goddard.

Leigh Francis offered a tearful apology for his Bo’ Selecta sketches
He would impersonate black celebrities on the sketch show

 

Leigh Francis, who wore rubber masks to play stars in his show Bo’ Selecta, from 2002 to 2004, was confronted by Trisha, one of the black celebs he lampooned along with Craig David and Mel B.

 

She accused him of hypocrisy when he joined Blackout Tuesday, a social media campaign for Black Lives Matter.

 

Leigh, 47, sent a private apology to Trisha and in an emotional Instagram video said: “I didn’t realise how offensive it was.

 

“I just want to say sorry for any upset I caused whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David, Trisha Goddard.”

 George Floyd was killed last Monday
George Floyd was killed after a white police officer knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes in the US
 George Floyd's death sparked protests across the world - including London
His death has triggered protests for racial equality across the globe

Last month, the killing of black American George Floyd as he was arrested by white police officer Derek Chauvin triggered a debate on racism all over the world.

 

In a disturbing video, Chauvin can be seen kneeling on handcuffed Mr. Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes while he pleaded for air.

 

The clip sparked Black Lives Matter protests for racial equality across the globe – including most US states, New Zealand, Australia, and up and down the UK.

 

Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 and is an international movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.

 

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