'Bo' Selecta!' removed from All 4 after Leigh Francis apologises for playing black characters

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14: Keith Lemon poses for a portrait to promote his new film "Keith Lemon:The Film" on August 14, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Keith Lemon poses for a portrait to promote Keith Lemon: The Film in 2012. (Getty Images)

Comedy sketch show Bo' Selecta! has been removed from Channel 4’s streaming service All 4 after its star Leigh Francis apologised for playing black characters.

The comedian and actor – best known for the character Keith Lemon – portrayed people such as Craig David, Michael Jackson, Mel B and Trisha Goddard on the Channel 4 show.

Posting a message and video on Instagram last week, the star said he had not realised how “offensive” it was and that he had been doing “a lot of talking and learning” following the death of George Floyd, whose death in police custody in the US has sparked outrage.

Read more: Leigh Francis has revealed he gets sexually harassed while in public

The sketch show had previously been available to watch on Channel 4's catch-up platform, but it has now disappeared.

The Sun quoted a Channel 4 spokesperson as saying: “We support Leigh in his decision to reflect on Bo’ Selecta! in light of recent events and we’ve agreed with him to remove the show from the All 4 archive.”

Francis, 47, posted his apology on Instagram last week, appearing emotional as he told his 1.7 million followers on the site that it had been “a weird few days”.

He said: “Back in 2002, I did a show called Bo' Selecta! and I portrayed many black people. Back then, I didn't think anything about it.

"People didn't say anything... I'm not going to blame other people.

“I've been talking to some people and I didn't realise how offensive it was back then and I just want to apologise.

Leigh Francis arrives at the BRIT Awards 2014 at the O2 Arena in London on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Leigh Francis pictured at the Brit Awards 2014. (Invision/AP)

"I want to say sorry for any upset I caused whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David or Trisha Goddard, all people that I am a big fan of. I guess we're all on a learning journey.”

He wrote in the accompanying caption: “Following recent events, I’ve done a lot of talking and learning and I would like to put this out there.

<p>A man (Leigh Francis) wearing a massive mask and walking around the streets of London… eventually destroying the street cred of celebrities like (Craig David. ITV/Talkback) </p>
Leigh Francis as Craig David in the sketch show Bo Selecta. (ITV/Talkback)

“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.”

Read more: Keith Lemon apologises as Celebrity Juice audience sent home due to coronavirus

Bo’ Selecta! started in 2002 and aired five series and several specials.

Its removal comes after Little Britain was removed from BBC iPlayer as well as other streaming sites BritBox and Netflix.

The controversial BBC comedy, which aired from 2003 to 2005 and starred David Walliams and Matt Lucas, had been criticised over the years for its use of blackface and stereotyping.