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TV & Film

Netflix removes League of Gentlemen and Mighty Boosh over blackface controversy

Many programmes have been removed.

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BBC

Several programmes have been axed from streaming services due to white actors using blackface in a number of episodes and films. 

Blackface is the term used to describe theatrical makeup by white people to represent – usually insultingly – a caricature of a black person. It is a term that finds its origins in the US.

It demonstrates a long, deeply rooted and painful history found within racial ideologies that underpin transatlantic slavery.

It was created in a time when black people did not have the same rights as white people and were denied citizenship as an excuse to justify state violence. This meant that Black people were not allowed to be seen on stage due to their skin colour.

Blackface is often thought of as an old relic from the 1800s but there are many cases of modern 21st century TV programs still using it.

In the light of the resurgence of the BLM movement, critics have called for shows that depict blackface which are still on streaming services to be removed because it does little to combat racism.

Although in many cases it’s widely agreed the individual wearing blackface does not intend racism, it still causes harm through ignorance.

Little Britain/BBC

The League of Gentlemen and The Mighty Boosh are the latest shows to be removed from Netflix due to their use of blackface, the Guardian reports. 

Little Britain has also been removed from Netflix, Britbox and BBC iPlayer due to the use of blackface in some of the sketches of the show. 

 Come Fly With Me, also from Matt Lucas and David Walliams, has also been axed. 

“There’s a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer, which we regularly review,” a spokesperson from the BBC said, adding: “Times have changed since Little Britain first aired so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer.”

Matt Lucas has previously admitted that Little Britain ‘aged terribly’, stressing that if the comedy was ever renewed, he would never play a black character again. 

Mighty Boosh/BBC

Gone With the Wind, an American civil war romance, positively depicts slavery and has since been removed from HBO Max where it was previously streamable. 

Channel 4 has removed Bo Selecta from its All4 streaming service and Leigh Francis, the comedian who played many black celebrities in the programme, such as Craig David and Trisha Goddard, has apologised for using blackface.

Ant and Dec have also issued an apology for a segment of Saturday Night Takeaway in 2003 where they impersonated people from other ethnic backgrounds using blackface. 

Despite the concept of blackface starting by white entertainers mimicking black people for entertainment purposes, many people are arguing that the programmes are ‘old’ and removing them from streaming services ‘takes away our right to choose’.

One Twitter user put: ‘The censorship of comedy – a favourite hobby in Hitler’s Germany – continues. Weary face Little Britain removed from BBC iPlayer, Netflix and BritBox due to use of blackface.”

It has caused much debate in the public, with one Twitter user explaining the issue thus: “Nobody is going on BBC iPlayer to watch those shows as a history lesson, they’re watching it to laugh – often at the expense of black people.”

TV & Film

Sheridan Smith to star in ITV’s ‘gripping’ new Manchester-made drama

“Can’t wait to start filming on this thrilling, complex story”

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ITV

A brand new ITV drama from the team behind The Stranger is set to start filming this year, with BAFTA award-winning actress Sheridan Smith starring in it.

No Return is going to be produced by Manchester-based executive producers Nicola Shindler and Richard Fee (The Stranger, Safe), while Hannah Quinn (The Stranger, Safe) will direct the series.

It follows the huge success of Manchester-born writer Danny Brocklehurst’s previous projects – such as Shameless, The Stranger and Safe.

The new four-part series is set to be absolutely ‘gripping’ as it follows the tale of a family holiday to Turkey which soon turns into a nightmare.  

sheridansmithster / Instagram

The synopsis reads: “Looking forward to an all-inclusive luxury break to enjoy the sun and sea with the family, Kathy and Martin, their son Noah and younger daughter Jess are blissfully unaware of the horrific ordeal about to unfold.

“The holiday is a chance to unwind and for Kathy and Martin to spend some much-needed family time. Until unsuspecting Noah accepts a seemingly innocent invitation to a beach party from a fellow holidaymaker, Rosie, who is staying at the same hotel, and Kathy and Martin’s world spectacularly falls apart.

“An arrest, an expensive and alien legal system, looming media coverage and resistance from fellow holidaymakers to come to their aid leaves the distraught parents fighting for Noah’s freedom when ironically he should be at school sitting his latest exams.”

Speaking of the upcoming project, lead actress Sheridan Smith said: “I’m such a big fan of Danny Brocklehurst and Red Production, they make incredible dramas.

“I was thrilled to be asked to play Kathy in this exciting production and to be at ITV again. Can’t wait to start filming on this thrilling, complex story about family finding their way through a terrifying situation.”

Manchester writer Danny Brocklehurst commented: “No Return is truly a passion project for me. It’s the story of a family caught in a modern nightmare but it allows us to explore themes of parenthood, justice, addiction and consent.

“I am delighted to be working with the amazing Sheridan Smith and once again partnering with ITV, and the brilliant Nicola Shindler and Hannah Quinn.”

The series is set to begin filming this summer.

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TV & Film

ITV’s new drama about the ‘worst serial killer Wales has ever seen’ starts tonight

“Two unsolved double murders from the 1980s cast a shadow over the work of the Dyfed Powys police force”

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ITV

The Pembrokeshire Murders starring Luke Evans starts on ITV tonight and it promises to be your next favourite series. 

Airing over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, The Pembrokeshire Murders follows Welsh actor Luke Evans as Senior Investigating Officer, Steve Wilkins as he reopens two unsolved double murders in Wales. 

The synopsis reads: “Two unsolved double murders from the 1980s cast a shadow over the work of the Dyfed Powys police force. In 2006, newly promoted Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins decided to reopen both cases,

“Employing pioneering forensic methods, Wilkins and his handpicked team found microscopic DNA and fibres that potentially linked the murders to a string of burglaries committed in the 80s and 90s.

“The perpetrator of those robberies was nearing the end of his prison sentence, but if Steve Wilkins was right, he was also a serial killer… Could Steve and his team find enough forensic evidence to charge their suspect before he was released to potentially kill again?”

Keith Allen plays John Cooper, the Welsh serial killer who was given life in 2011 for the 1985 double murder of siblings Richard and Helen Thomas and the 1989 double murder of Peter and Gwenda Dixon. 

The true story gained significant media attention at the time when it was discovered that John had appeared on Bullseye in 1989, a factor which later became a crucial element in his identification. 

Speaking about the show, Luke Evans admitted he was hooked from the start: “The story hooked me immediately. I mean, also, I’m a sucker for a true story and this isn’t just a true story, it’s a shocking, true story about the worst serial killer that Wales has ever seen.

“I got to use my own Welsh accent for the first time in many, many, many years and it was a great experience all around.”

He continued: “These stories do feel like they can’t be true, they can’t be real. But this one has so many twists and turns and it almost feels many, many times during the story that the whole thing is going to go cold once again, because the forensic evidence is so minimal and the budgets were running out and people were losing faith.”

The Pembrokeshire Murders airs tonight (Monday 11th January) at 9pm on ITV.

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TV & Film

Gogglebox star ‘unrecognisable’ after shaving his head completely

‘Oh wow, you look fab’

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stephengwebb1971 / Instagram

One Gogglebox star has been branded ‘unrecognisable’ after completely shaving his head.

Stephen Webb, who features on Gogglebox with husband Daniel Lustig, recently shared his new dramatic look on Instagram.

The Brighton-based couple are both hairdressers and after viewers recently claimed Stephen ‘looked like Ken Barlow’ with his long hair, he’s decided to chop it all off. 

The 48-year-old grabbed a razor and shaved right down the middle of his head.

stephengwebb1971 / Instagram

Sharing the post to his Instagram followers, one has replied ‘OMG….why?’, while another said ‘love it bruv’.

A third said: “Looks good, makes you look younger and I don’t mean to offended you but you’ve got sexy straight vibes going”. A fourth commented ‘oh wow, you look fab’.

Stephen joined Gogglebox as part of the original lineup in the very first series in 2013, but his husband Daniel only joined in 2019.

The new series is set to begin in February on Channel 4. 

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