Channel 4 Says Taking Down TV Shows Over Blackface Is ‘Not A Quick Fix’

Emma Rosemurgey

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Channel 4 Says Taking Down TV Shows For Blackface Is 'Not A Quick Fix’ For RacismChannel 4

Channel 4 has spoken out after Netflix removed a scene from classic sitcom Peep Show, saying ‘erasing our creative history’ is not a ‘quick fix’.

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain momentum, a number of different shows have removed scenes or even full episodes, which have been deemed to be racially offensive.

Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh have both been removed from streaming services for containing blackface, and now a scene from Peep Show, which ran from 2003 to 2015, has had a scene removed from Netflix.

Channel 4 Says Taking Down TV Shows For Blackface Is 'Not A Quick Fix’ For RacismChannel 4

The scene in question appears in an episode titled Dance Class, from season two, and sees Jez, played by Robert Webb, ‘black up’ while experimenting in the bedroom with girlfriend Nancy.

In the scene, Jez looks uncomfortable and says: ‘It just feels almost wrong. Are you sure this isn’t racist?’

‘We’re breaking a taboo, of course it feels wrong. We’ve got boundaries to smash, Jeremy,’ Nancy replies.

‘It’s our duty to God, Shiva, NASDAQ, whatever you want to call him. Jeremy, I come from America. I’ve seen the problems race brings up,’ she adds.

Speaking about taboos, and that scene in particular, to Vice in 2015, Webb said: ‘The whole comedy of that scene is that [Jez] is very, very worried about this, and it’s Nancy’s craziness and blithe… she’s just a bit fucking stupid. She’s a self-conscious taboo breaker, so she’s very aware of the taboo, whereas Jez is coming at it from a more sensible angle, that is, ‘Let’s not do this taboo’.’

Channel 4 Says Taking Down TV Shows For Blackface Is 'Not A Quick Fix’ For RacismChannel 4

While Netflix has opted to remove the scene, the episode remains on Channel 4’s streaming service at the time of writing, June 29.

In a lengthy statement, a spokesperson for Channel 4 told Metro they are currently reviewing the principles over how they should ‘handle historic programmes across our platforms’.

They added that All 4 contains more than 10,000 hours of programmes from more than 30 years, many of which ‘reflect the time they were made and some contain content which could now be regarded as inappropriate’.

The spokesperson continued:

It is a complex issue particularly when it relates to programmes that satirised, commented on or challenged a specific moment in our culture that is no longer relevant to audiences today.

We understand the strong feelings provoked by some of this content but we do not believe that erasing our creative history is a quick fix for the issues affecting our society today.

Channel 4 is committed to inclusion and diversity and opposes discrimination in any form and therefore, having reflected deeply on this subject, we are undertaking a review of the principles governing how we handle historic programmes across our platforms.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 did recently remove comedy Bo’ Selecta! from All4 streaming services, over scenes in which white comedian Leigh Francis played characters such as Michael Jackson and Craig David.

However, many Black Lives Matter advocates have accused platforms of removing episodes as a box ticking exercise, rather than dealing with the root of the problem.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website

Topics: Film and TV, Black Lives Matter, blackface, Channel 4, Netflix, Now, TV


Metro and 1 other
  1. Metro

    Peep Show blackface scene removed from Netflix

  2. Vice

    Remembering 'Peep Show' with Its Stars and Creators

Emma Rosemurgey
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