Idris Elba says racist films and TV shows should come with a warning – not be pulled

The Luther star told the Radio Times magazine a ratings system should be in place to alert viewers of racist viewpoints in shows.

Idris Elba

Luther star Idris Elba has advocated for a ratings system that warns viewers of a film or show with outdated or offensive viewpoints.

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Speaking to the Radio Times magazine for this week’s issue, the Emmy-winning actor spoke about the removal of shows which contain offensive jokes from streaming platforms.

“I’m very much a believer in freedom of speech,” said Elba. “But the thing about freedom of speech is that it’s not suitable for everybody.”

“That’s why we have a rating system: we tell you that this particular content is rated U, PG, 15, 18, X…I don’t know anything about X, by the way,” he joked.

Elba, whose sitcom In The Long Run is returning to Sky One for a third series, added that racism should be no different from sexism, with a ratings system in place alerting viewers to racist jokes, viewpoints and themes within a show.

“To mock the truth, you have to know the truth. But to censor racist themes within a show, to pull it – wait a second, I think viewers should know that people made shows like this.”

He continued: “Out of respect for the time and the movement, commissioners and archive-holders pulling things they think are exceptionally tone-deaf at this time – fair enough and good for you. But I think, moving forward, people should know that freedom of speech is accepted, but the audience should know what they’re getting into.”

“I don’t believe in censorship,” he said. “I believe that we should be allowed to say what we want to say. Because, after all, we’re story-makers.”

Elba’s comments follow the shows removed for blackface and films containing racist viewpoints pulled from streaming platforms last month in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

David Walliams and Matt Lucas’ sketch shows Little Britain and Come Fly with Me were pulled in full from BBC iPlayer, Netflix and BritBox, while various streamers removed certain episodes of 30 Rock, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Peep Show from their platforms.

Series three of In The Long Run begins on Sky One on Thursday 23rd July. For the biggest interviews and the best TV listings subscribe to Radio Times now and never miss a copy.

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