Netflix and the BBC pull Little Britain reruns over use of blackface

The moves to cut Little Britain highlight the liabilities streaming companies face with their historical libraries. PHOTO: STARHUB

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - The British comedy Little Britain was removed from several streaming services, including Netflix, the BBC's iPlayer and BritBox, over its repeated use of blackface, according to multiple reports.

A BBC spokesperson told the Telegraph newspaper that "times have changed" since the sketch comedy programme first aired in the mid-2000s. But other shows with blackface portrayals or white actors caricaturing people of colour are still available on streaming services, the Daily Mail reported.

Protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in America have spread across the globe. In the UK, thousands marched in London in solidarity rallies, sparking fresh questions about British icons of history and popular culture. In Bristol, protesters tore down the statue of Edward Colston, the philanthropist who made his money from a company that shipped slaves to America, and threw it in the river. In London, the statue of 18th century slave owner Robert Milligan was removed from its place in the docklands.

The moves to cut Little Britain highlight the liabilities streaming companies face with their historical libraries, which often contain rights to shows featuring insensitive or outright racist scenes and themes that couldn't possibly be greenlighted by a major studio today.

Disney has refused to run 1946 film Song Of The South, which features racial stereotypes, on the company's Disney+ streaming service. Executive Chairman Bob Iger told a shareholder who asked about the film earlier this year that, "It was just not appropriate in today's world."

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