Lucas and Walliams posted identical public apologies on Twitter at the same time on Saturday evening, days after Netflix, BBC on-demand service iPlayer and Britbox removed the series from their platforms. Netflix also dropped the comedians’ airport mockumentary “Come Fly With Me.”
The pair had been conspicuously silent on the matter since the show’s removal made international headlines. The event served as something of a harbinger for a slew of other problematic TV series and films disappearing from various services in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lucas, who is best known for roles in “Bridesmaids” and “Polar,” wrote, “David and I have both spoken publicly in recent years of our regret that we played characters of other races. Once again, we want to make it clear that it was wrong and we are very sorry.”
Similarly, Walliams said, “Matt & I have both spoken publicly in recent years of our regret that we played characters of other races. Once again we want to make it clear that it was wrong & we are very sorry.”
A BBC spokesman told Variety last week following the show’s removal: “There’s a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer which we regularly review. Times have changed since ‘Little Britain’ first aired, so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer.”
“Little Britain” first aired in 2003, while “Come Fly With Me” debuted in 2010. Both series saw the comedians play characters from different ethnic backgrounds with the use of make-up. In “Come Fly With Me,” Lucas and Walliams wore make up for characters including airport worker Taaj, passenger liaison officer Moses Beacon, and airline boss Omar Baba while Walliams also starred as health-spa guest Desiree Devere in “Little Britain.”
Lucas has previously expressed regret for playing Black characters in “Little Britain.”
The comedian told the “Big Issue” magazine in 2017: “I wouldn’t make that show now. It would upset people. We made a more cruel kind of comedy than I’d do now.
“Society has moved on a lot since then and my own views have evolved. There was no bad intent there – the only thing you could accuse us of was greed. We just wanted to show off about what a diverse bunch of people we could play.”
Earlier this year, it was reported that Netflix was in discussions with Walliams and Lucas about a revival of “Little Britain.” Lucas told BBC Radio 2 in March: “It might happen. We had a conversation with them a while ago and so the seed was planted in our head.”
It’s still unclear whether Netflix will move forward with the show in light of recent events, but it’s unlikely, particularly as the streamer publicly pledged “a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up” in the wake of the U.S. anti-racism protests over the death of George Floyd.
Lucas, who is set to replace Sandi Toksvig as co-host of Channel 4’s “Great British Bake Off” later this summer, is still set for those hosting duties, the broadcaster confirmed to Variety.