Harry Enfield defends past use of blackface: “I don’t think I regret it”

The actor was appearing on Radio 4's Today programme

Harry Enfield has defended his past use of blackface on television, saying he “[doesn’t] think I regret it”.

It comes as a number of shows have been removed from streaming services this week due to their racial insensitivity.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme (via Evening Standard) this morning (June 11) in response to the removal of Little Britain, The Mighty Boosh and more from streaming services, Enfield debated the issue with Nick Robinson and writer Ava Vidal, using a racial slur when referring to a GH Elliott character called “Chocolate Coloured C**n” from the 1930s.

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“Obviously, Al Jolson or GH Elliott who played the Chocolate Coloured C**n, in the thirties, they perpetuated the myth of the happy negro, who was very happy to sing under the crack of the whip,” he said. “Obviously that’s deeply offensive.”

Little Britain
‘Little Britain’ (CREDIT: BBC)

After Robinson pointed out that viewers could find the word offensive, Enfield replied: “Well, that was his name on stage.”

Going on to discuss portraying Nelson Mandela in sketch series Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry and Paul, Enfield defended his actions, saying: “There was a lot of things in the paper about drugs, so I made him a drug dealer, or a peddler of alcopops to children and things like that, which I thought was so wrong it was alright. I wouldn’t do it now, but I don’t think I regret it.

“The whole point to say how preposterous it was to have this stereotype by playing Nelson Mandela as that stereotype.”

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Going on to discuss whether he would play a future Prime Minister of colour, Enfield added: “I’ve played Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, David Cameron – four Prime Ministers.

“Say if Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister. I would find it difficult that I would not be allowed to play him because of the colour of his skin.”

Over the past week, and following global Black Lives Matter protests for racial justice, a number of TV shows – including Little Britain, Come Fly With Me, The Mighty Boosh and four of Chris Lilley’s programs – have been pulled from the internet due to perceived racial insensitivity.

“Times have changed since Little Britain first aired so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer,” a BBC spokesperson said in a statement.

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