The Fast Show star Simon Day has waded into the blackface controversy which has dogged Little Britain and other Noughties comedies, saying “blacking up” is wrong now and it was wrong then.
Repeats of some massively popular shows in their time, including Little Britain, Bo’ Selecta and The Mighty Boosh, have been pulled from schedules due to the controversy in which white actors and comedians wear blackface make-up for comic effect.
The Fast Show – which is about to celebrate its 26th anniversary with a two-hour retrospective on Gold channel – avoided their fate and Day (Dave Angel Eco Warrior) was explained why.
“Listen, I was living in Deptford and I knew loads of black people,” he told Radio Times magazine. “I just wouldn’t do blacking up. I wouldn’t dream of it. You can’t do it now, but you shouldn’t have done it at the time, either.
“I understand why people are upset about Matt [Lucas] and Dave [Walliams], although I don’t think they were trying to be offensive. They were just trying to do something different.”
The Fast Show cast have other explanations for why the show has aged better than most comedies – they strived to be timeless and to avoid covering time-stamped issues and current fads.
Creators Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson were also granted exceptional levels of freedom for producers with no track record, including being able to use unknown actors, writing what they pleased and slowly growing their audience.
Whitehouse said: “I understand why TV commissioners may want to play it safe [now], but in comedy you often need to do something completely different. With a diminishing audience, the competition from other broadcasters, and the scrutiny everywhere, maybe you can’t be as bold these days.”
John Thomson found fame with hit ITV drama Cold Feet, which returned in 2016 after a 13-year gap.
He said: “Some things are in a time capsule, but The Fast Show still holds its weight today, it’s really credible. When we made it, it was a very different time in Britain: it was all positive, there was no recession, and so with this reunion comes a nice reminiscence of a good time.
“I never thought that Cold Feet would work when it came back, but it worked brilliantly. I think this is the same. Nostalgia will always triumph.”
The Fast Show cast reunited to film the 26th anniversary show The Fast Show: Just a Load of Blooming Catchphrases just before lockdown, featuring interviews with the cast both as themselves, and also as their most popular characters. It screens on Gold on Saturday, 29th August.
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