Leigh Francis apologises for playing black characters on ‘Bo’ Selecta!’: “I’m deeply sorry”

"I guess we’re all on a learning journey"

Leigh Francis has apologised for his caricatures of black celebrities in his sketch show Bo’ Selecta!

The British actor, whose alter ego is Keith Lemon, is known for his bizarre skits aired on the Channel 4 programme between 2002 and 2009 and for hosting ITV2 comedy panel show Celebrity Juice since 2008.

Yesterday (June 4) the actor shared a video on his Instagram in which he said he’s been on a “learning journey” over the last week and wanted to say sorry for his “offensive” portrayals of black people including singers Michael Jackson and Craig David and TV presenter Trisha Goddard.

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“It’s been a weird few days, it’s been a weird few days. And I’ve sat and thought about things and what I could post to try and help things,” he said in the clip.

“I just want to say sorry for any upset I caused, whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David, Trisha Goddard, all people that I’m a big fan of. I guess we’re all on a learning journey.

“Back then, I didn’t think anything about it, people didn’t say anything. I’m not going to blame it on other people.”

Leigh Francis posing with DVDs of ‘Bo Selecta!’ CREDIT: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

He continued: “I’ve been talking to some people and I didn’t realise how offensive it was back then and I just want to apologise.”

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The video was captioned with a nod to Black Lives Matter: “Following recent events, I’ve done a lot of talking and learning and I would like to put this out there. I want to apologise to anyone that was offended by Bo’ Selecta. I’m on a constant journey of knowledge and just wanted to say I’m deeply sorry. #blacklivesmatter.”

Francis wore large latex masks to portray an array of celebrities in his surreal sketch show, which also included Mel B from the Spice Girls. He also caricatured a number of other celebrities including the Osbourne family, the Beckhams, Gareth Gates and Elton John.

It comes in the wake of George Floyd’s death, who was killed while in Minneapolis police custody. Derek Chauvin, who pinned down Floyd by the neck for nearly nine minutes, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Three other officers now all face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Last week, Jimmy Fallon apologised after a video of him wearing blackface on Saturday Night Live in 2000 resurfaced.

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