Netflix removes blackface scene from comedy 'Peep Show'

Danny Thompson
Peep Show stars David Mitchell (left) and Robert Webb pose with the Best Comedy Programme Bafta for That Mitchell and Webb Look at the London Palladium in 2007. (Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

Streaming service Netflix has removed a blackface scene from the British comedy Peep Show.

The scene in question is taken from the episode Dance Class, from the second series of the show.

It sees Jez, played by Robert Webb, covered black in make-up while “breaking taboos” with girlfriend Nancy, played by Canadian actress Rachel Blanchard.

The scene sees Jez say: “It just feels almost wrong. Are you sure this isn’t racist?”

Read more: Little Britain removed from BBC iPlayer, BritBox and Netflix

Nancy responds: “We’re breaking a taboo, of course, it feels wrong.

“We’ve got boundaries to smash, Jeremy. It’s our duty to God, Shiva, NASDAQ, whatever you want to call him. 

“Jeremy, I come from America. I’ve seen the problems race brings up.”

Jez, played by Robert Webb, in an episode of Peep Show. (Channel 4)

Despite Netflix’s decision, Channel 4, which originally aired the series between 2003 and 2015, has so far kept the scene on its own streaming service.

A spokesperson said: “Channel 4 is currently undertaking a review of the principles governing how we handle historic programmes across our platforms. 

“All 4’s archive contains over 10,000 hours of programming spanning over 30 years.   

Rachel Blanchard (Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

‘Many shows reflect the time they were made and some contain content which could now be regarded as inappropriate.   

“It is a complex issue particularly when it relates to programmes that satirised, commented on or challenged a specific moment in our culture that is no longer relevant to audiences today.  

“We understand the strong feelings provoked by some of this content but we do not believe that erasing our creative history is a quick fix for the issues affecting our society today. 

Read more: John Cleese criticises decision to remove Fawlty Towers episode from UKTV

“Channel 4 is committed to inclusion and diversity and opposes discrimination in any form and therefore, having reflected deeply on this subject, we are undertaking a review of the principles governing how we handle historic programmes across our platforms.”

The use of offensive racial stereotypes has been being question almost across the board among broadcasters after the recent Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd.

Both Netflix and the BBC iPlayer stopped streaming Little Britain in recent weeks, with creators and stars David Walliams and Matt Lucas both making public apologies for their use of blackface.