Both Lucas and Walliams simultaneously tweeted public apologies Saturday, four days after the series’ removal from the streaming platforms.
Lucas 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.”
Walliams’ statement was similar, but swapped Lucas’ first name for his own.
This is the first time the creatives have spoken out since their series made international headlines on Tuesday.
Little Britain debuted in 2003 on BBC Three. It aired three seasons and several specials in Great Britain; HBO aired an American spinoff starring Walliams and Lucas, Little Britain USA, in 2008. One of Walliams’ Little Britain characters was Desiree DeVere, a Black woman played by Walliams wearing blackface.
In addition to the series’ removal from Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Britbox, Netflix also dropped the comedians’ airport mockumentary, Come Fly With Me, which featured Lucas playing a Black character named Precious Little. Lucas and Walliams can also be seen wearing make up for their airport worker character, Taaj, passenger liaison officer Moses Beacon and airline boss Omar Baba.
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“There’s a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer, which we regularly review,” a spokesperson for the BBC told The Daily Mail earlier this week. “Times have changed since Little Britain first aired, so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer.”
In a 2017, Lucas said he regretted how the show had handled sensitive topics. “Basically, I wouldn’t make that show now. It would upset people,” he said in The Big Issue, specifically citing the use of blackface and how the show lampooned cross-dressers. “We made a more cruel kind of comedy than I’d do now.”