Ed Sheeran says ‘South Park’ episode about red-haired kids “fucking ruined” his life

"I remember that episode coming out, and that was just it, worldwide for the rest of my life"

Ed Sheeran has opened up about the South Park episode ‘Ginger Kids’ – wherein Eric Cartman likens red-haired children to vampires – saying it “fucking ruined [his] life”.

The controversial episode first aired in November 2005, towards the end of the show’s ninth season. In the audio commentary heard on the DVD release, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone said the episode was inspired by an anti-redhead billboard they saw on a press tour of England.

In a new interview with Slam Radio (per The Independent), Sheeran noted that “having red hair in England was always a thing that people took the piss out of you for, but it was never something in America. People never knew what a ginger was in America.”

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After the episode aired, he said, Americans caught on to the gag and joined in hassling Sheeran for his ginger hair. “I was going to America,” he continued, “and everyone was like, ‘I love your hair, dude.’ And I was like ‘Oh my God, people like my hair?’ And then I remember that episode coming out, and that was just it, worldwide for the rest of my life.”

In the episode, Cartman is led to believe he was “cursed” with a disease called “gingervitis”, causing red hair, light skin and freckles due to those affected having no soul. 

The gag spurred actual controversy in the years following the episode’s release; in 2008, for example, a joke on Facebook – alleged to be inspired by the episode – spurred into an event dubbed “National Kick A Ginger Day”. Police in Canada subsequently investigated it as a hate crime.

Take a look at a clip from the South Park episode ‘Ginger Kids’ below:

Meanwhile, Sheeran recently shared plans for a personal commitment to the environment, saying he wanted to “rewild as much of the UK as [he] can”. Discussing a habitat in his own home in Suffolk, he said: “I have got a massive beehive. I have this massive wildlife pond with newts in it, salamanders and there’s a grass snake that lives in there and hedgehogs.

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Last month, the singer-songwriter raised £52,765 for a primary school in his hometown, donating a customised guitar to a charity raffle. Tickets were priced at £5 with 10,553 sold in over 160 countries across the world.

Sheeran also made history in December when his song ‘Shape Of You’ became the first to reach three billion streams on Spotify. The milestone came after he released a festive collab with Elton John, ‘Merry Christmas’, which NME described as “a nice, safe, mid-paced sleigh ride through lyrics simple enough for your young relatives to recite, and sleepy enough to ensure your Nan doesn’t spill her eggnog”.

Earlier this year, South Park was renewed through to season 30, with 14 films for Paramount+ also greenlit. The first two films – South Park: Post COVID and South Park: Post COVID: The Return Of COVID – were released in 2021.

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