The online channel tweeted a picture of Ed Sheeran seemingly shaving off all his hair in an apparent reference to Spears shaving her head in a salon in 2007.
The post – which has since been deleted – was captioned: “BREAKING NEWS.
“Ed Sheeran has gone full 2007 Britney.”
The BBC announced that in 2017 they'd be challenging the discrimination and tackling the stigma of mental health.— shane telford. (@MrShaneReaction) April 2, 2017
They tweeted this today pic.twitter.com/t5yfQNso7M
People were quick to slam the “distasteful” post, with some accusing the broadcaster of making a mockery of mental health issues despite vowing to focus on tackling the stigma surrounding mental health in 2017.
One user tweeted: “There's nothing funny about Britney suffering from mental health issues & people taking the p*** out of her.”
Another posted: “You don't care about MH. You're a bunch of fakes tbh. Exhibit A.”
@bbcthree you all deleted that incentive Britney meme 24 hours after it was posted, I demand an apology for your disgusting behavior.— Jesse (@JesseNune) April 2, 2017
A spokesperson for the site apologised for any offence caused and explained that the intention was not to reference mental health.
In a statement to Mail Online they said: “BBC Three has a history of supporting mental health issues and the tweet was not intended as a reference to mental health, or designed to cause any offence.
“We have therefore removed it from our twitter feed.”
Spears went through a highly-publicised public meltdown in 2007. Her three-year marriage to Kevin Federline ended in a divorce, and she went on to lose custody of her sons Sean Preston and Jayden James. She later shaved off her hair at Esther's Haircutting Studio and attacked a paparazzo's car with a green umbrella.
The Pop Princess is currently performing her Piece Of Me residency in Las Vegas.