Ant and Dec ‘sincerely sorry’ for using blackface on Saturday Night Takeaway

Ant and Dec have made a public apology for impersonating people of colour on Saturday Night Takeaway (Photo: Shutterstock)
Ant and Dec have made a public apology for impersonating people of colour on Saturday Night Takeaway (Photo: Shutterstock)

Ant and Dec have made a public apology for impersonating people of colour on Saturday Night Takeaway.

The presenting duo used darker make-up and prosthetics to conceal their real identities in order to pull pranks on famous people for the show.

They have since apologised - but what exactly did they do, and which other TV shows have been criticised for racism?

What did the presenters do on Saturday Night Takeaway?

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    During a segment for Saturday Night Takeaway in 2003, the presenting duo dressed up as two fictional Jamaican women, Patty and Bernice, and then as two Japanese girls, Suki and Keiko, the year after, adopting fake accents.

    It’s the second time this year that they have had to apologise for causing cultural offence on the Saturday Night Takeaway show.

    In March, the duo both wore headbands that featured the Japanese Rising Sun flag, which is seen by some as a symbol of Japan's imperialist past. They wore the headbands during a martial arts inspired performance alongside pop singer Anne Marie.

    The pair’s apology follows widespread Black Lives Matter protests, both in the US and the UK, over the death of African American George Floyd.


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    Mr Floyd died in Minneapolis on 25 May, as a white police officer held a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes in the street.

    Former police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder.

    What did Ant and Dec say to apologise?

    In a statement on Wednesday (10 June), Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly apologised “to everyone that we offended,” alongside requesting ITV remove the 2003 and 2004 sketches from its catch-up service.


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    The statement reads: "During past episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway we impersonated people of colour in the Undercover segment of the show.

    "We realise that this was wrong and want to say that we are sincerely sorry to everyone that we offended.

    "We purposely stopped doing this several years ago and certainly would not make these sketches today.

    “We had already taken steps to ensure footage was taken down, and have again recently confirmed with ITV that these segments, and any other historical content that could cause offence, does not appear on either the ITV hub or the Saturday Night Takeaway YouTube Channel.”


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    Which other shows have been removed?

    The BBC also removed popular comedy Little Britain from its streaming sites just a few days ago, due to the sketch show's use of blackface.

    The Matt Lucas and David Walliams series was pulled alongside their other comedy Come Fly With Me.

    A BBC spokesperson said."There's a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer, which we regularly review.


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    "Times have changed since Little Britain first aired so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer."

    Last week, comedian Leigh Francis also issued an apology for having made himself up as black celebrities on the impression show Bo' Selecta.

    Bo' Selecta has also been removed from All4 .

    Leigh Francais said: "Back in 2002, I did a show called Bo' Selecta! and I portrayed many Black people. Back then, I didn't think anything about it. People didn't say anything... I'm not going to blame other people.


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    "I've been talking to some people and I didn't realise how offensive it was back then and I just want to apologise.

    “I want to say sorry for any upset I caused whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David or Trisha Goddard... all people who I am a big fan of. I guess we're all on a learning journey."