The Spice Girls call out Dutch TV host for defending 'traditional' blackface character in resurfaced footage

Roisin O'Connor

Footage of the Spice Girls calling out a TV host for defending blackface has resurfaced online.

The clip shows the girl group make an appearance on Dutch TV show Laat de Leeuw in 1997, and begins with host Paul De Leeuw bringing out some fans to ask them some questions.

He then introduces a group of people in blackface dressed as 'Zwarte Piet' ['Black Pete'] - a character known as a companion to the Dutch version of Santa Claus.

The Spice Girls are visibly unimpressed, and singer Mel B - who gives a fantastic side-eye - attempts to explain to De Leeuw why blackface was inappropriate.

"I think they shouldn't paint their faces. You should get proper black people to do it," she tells him. "I don't think that's very good."

She is also seen making the 'cut' sign, seeming to look over at someone backstage as though she wishes the interview to end.

An unimpressed Mel B appeared to call for the interview to be cut

Leeuw tries to convince her that "it's culture", but Mel B hits back and tells him to "change it" because "this is the '90s".

Geri Halliwell backs her up with: "Update your culture."

Since the show took place there has in fact been an attempt to "clean up" that particular element of Dutch culture.

The traditional entrance by Zwarte Piet at the northern port of Meppel in the Netherlands in 2015 showed featured the character with black smudges on his cheeks instead of the traditional blackface; which suggested his complexion was caused by a journey down the chimney.

Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Masstricht and Antwerp have all introduced "alternative" Black Petes using soot rather than blackface, while schools and shops have dropped the more racially-charged aspects of his appearance.

Howard Gutmanm, a former US ambassador to Belgium, told The Independent at the time: "When a symbol meant only to bring joy has come to have the opposite effect on well-meaning others, it is time for the symbol to evolve."

In November a similarly inspiring video resurfaced which showed the Spice Girls taking on an advertising team who had asked them to show cleavage.

The edited video was a behind-the-scenes clip of the girl band at the height of their fame in 1997 - the same year they appeared on the Dutch TV show - when they were shooting an advert for Polaroid.

Wearing school uniform-style outfits, Mel B and Geri Halliwell were filmed telling two male members of the film crew to "f*** off" after one of them claimed that "cleavage" and "midriff" shots of them would be "every man's fantasy".

"You should know better by now," Halliwell tells the men. "You're in the advertising [industry]. What sort of example is that?"