Over the past few days, streaming giants such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and BritBox have axed titles from their services which feature the use of blackface, with the latter two platforms stating that “times have changed”.
While Netflix has not commented on its reasons for removing shows, the change coincides with the growing number of Black Lives Matter protests happening across the globe following the killing of George Floyd in America.
Titles such as Little Britain, Summer Heights High and The Mighty Boosh, which all contain scenes featuring actors in dark make-up, are no longer available on Netflix.
Here’s a full list of series that have disappeared from the platform.
Netflix removed the BBC One sketch show, starring David Walliams and Matt Lucas, on Friday, with BBC iPlayer and BritBox following suit the week after.
Little Britain, which ran from 2003 until 2007, consisted of short sketches, parodying British people from across the UK.
The series had attracted criticism since its time on air, particularly in relation to Walliams’ portrayal of health retreat guest Desiree Devere, for which he wore a black fat suit, wig and prosthetics.
David Walliams told Radio Times magazine in 2018 that he would approach a reboot of the sketch show differently as “it’s a different time now”, while Matt Lucas said the same in 2017.
“If I could go back and do Little Britain again, I wouldn’t make those jokes about transvestites,” he told The Big Issue. “I wouldn’t play black characters.”
However, the pair reprised a few of their characters for Comic Relief and Children in Need’s Big Night In two months ago.
Come Fly With Me
Netflix also removed the Little Britain pair’s second sketch show, Come Fly With Me, which saw the pair play various characters travelling via or working at an airport.
The show, which ran for just one series in 2010, featured Walliams wearing dark make-up to play liaison officer Moses Beacon and airline mogul Omar Baba, while Matt Lucas wore black face for his character Precious Little, a Jamaican coffee kiosk manager.
The Mighty Boosh
The wacky BBC Three series, starring Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, is no longer available on Netflix.
Based on a radio series of the same name, The Mighty Boosh follows best friends Howard Moon (Barratt) and Vince Noir (Fielding) as they go on a number of surreal adventures.
However, in various episodes, Fielding would wear black and white face paint, a white suit and dreadlocks to play The Spirit of Jazz/Howlin’ Jimmy Jefferson – the ghost of a famous jazz musician.
Although no longer available on Netflix, The Mighty Boosh can still be watched on BBC iPlayer.
RadioTimes.com has reached out Barratt and Fielding for comment.
The League of Gentlemen
Starring Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss and Inside No. 9 duo Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, The League of Gentleman followed the lives of various characters living in Cumbria.
The series, which has been removed by Netflix, aired from 1999 until 2002 on BBC Two, but returned for an anniversary special in 2017.
Though an official explanation has not been given, The League of Gentlemen was most likely taken down due to Shearsmith’s character Papa Lazarou.
Lazarou, who is based on the landlord of a flat in which Shearsmith and Pemberton lived, appears throughout the series as a demonic carnival ringmaster who collectives wives.
The series is still available on BBC iPlayer. RadioTimes.com has reached out to Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith for comment.
Jonah from Tonga
Netflix has confirmed that Australian mockumentary Jonah from Tonga was removed from its service in Australia and New Zealand – the show was never available on Netflix UK.
Starring comedian Chris Lilley, the series attracted criticism for his use of brownface make-up to play Tongan child Jonah Takalua and for his portrayal of Tongans generally.
The show follows 14-year-old Jonah (Lilley) who is sent back back to Tonga after being expelled from school. The show aired on BBC Three in the UK in 2014.
Although Jonah from Tonga is not available on Netflix in Australia and New Zealand, the streaming service has not removed Lilley’s other series Lunatics.
RadioTimes.com has reached out to Chris Lilley for comment.
Netflix has also confirmed that Australian mockumentary Angry Boys was removed from its service in Australia and New Zealand – the show was never available on Netflix UK.
Another Chris Lilley comedy, Angry Boys stars the Australian comedian as six different characters, including an African American rapper named S.mouse – for which Lilley wears blackface.
Lilley also plays Jen Okazaki, a demanding Japanese housewife and mother.
The series, which aired in Australia in 2011, has been a subject of debate since its release, particularly in relation to Lilley’s use of blackface.
Summer Heights High
One of Lilley’s most popular programmes, Summer Heights High sees the comedian play three different characters: teacher Mr G, transfer student Jamie and troubled student Jonah.
Again, it is mainly Lilley’s use of brownface to depict Jonah, who is a Tongan 14-year-old, which has attracted critics over the years.
The series is no longer available on Netflix in Australia and New Zealand.
We Can Be Heroes
Lilley’s first mockumentary, We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year, has also been removed from Netflix in Australia and New Zealand.
The 2005 comedy stars Lilley as five characters, all competing for Australian of the Year, including Chinese physics student Ricky Wong.