Ant and Dec have become the latest celebrities to apologise for “impersonating people of colour” on their TV show as Black Lives Matter protests continue across the globe.
The double act said they are “sincerely sorry to everyone that was offended” by the impressions on the “undercover” segments of old episodes of their ITV show Saturday Night Takeaway.
In a statement on Twitter, the pair wrote: “During past episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway we impersonated people of colour in the undercover segment of the show.
“We realise that this was wrong and want to say that we are sincerely sorry to everyone that we offended.
“We purposely stopped doing this several years ago and certainly would not make these sketches today.”
The episodes have disappeared from ITV’s online catch-up service, with the pair, both 44, confirming that they had “already taken steps to ensure the footage was taken down”.
Sky News has contacted ITV for comment.
Protests have taken place across the globe after unarmed black man George Floyd, 46, was killed after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck in the US city of Minneapolis, despite him pleading he could not breathe.
In the UK, Little Britain and Matt Lucas and David Walliams’s other sketch show, Come Fly With Me, were both removed from streaming platforms because of their use of blackface.
The programme has faced criticism in recent years for its portrayal of black and Asian characters by the two white men, with characters including a Caribbean woman called Desiree and a mail-order bride named Ting Tong.
Speaking to the Big Issue in 2017, Matt Lucas said that if he could make Little Britain again, he would not play black characters.
In an interview with Radio Times Magazine in 2018, Walliams said he would also make the show differently if he was given the opportunity.