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Britbox puts ‘offensive racial stereotyping’ warning on pioneering sitcom Desmond’s

Britbox puts offensive racial stereotyping warning on pioneering sitcom Desmonds


Britbox puts ‘offensive racial stereotyping’ warning on pioneering sitcom Desmond’s even though it had largely black cast and was created by black writers

  • BBC and ITV service placed warning on one episode called ‘Hello Aunty Susu’
  • It said episode ‘contains racial stereotyping some viewers may find offensive’
  • Scene, also flagged by Channel 4, contains discussion about hereditary traits
  • It follows warning about ‘racist terms’ on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G Show










Britbox has put an ‘offensive racial stereotyping’ warning on the pioneering sitcom Desmond’s even though it had a largely black cast and was created by black writers.

The BBC and ITV streaming service placed the caution on one episode called ‘Hello Aunty Susu’, which includes a discussion about hereditary traits.

Britbox said the episode, which has also been flagged by Channel 4, ‘contains racial stereotyping which some viewers may find offensive’. 

It follows the service warning viewers about ‘racist terms’ on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G Show, giving a viewer disclaimer for offensive racial imagery in The Good Life and placing a viewer discretion warning on Keeping Up Appearances.

The BBC and ITV streaming service placed the caution on one episode called 'Hello Aunty Susu', which includes a discussion about hereditary traits

The BBC and ITV streaming service placed the caution on one episode called ‘Hello Aunty Susu’, which includes a discussion about hereditary traits

Britbox said the episode, which has also been flagged by Channel 4, 'contains racial stereotyping which some viewers may find offensive'

Britbox said the episode, which has also been flagged by Channel 4, ‘contains racial stereotyping which some viewers may find offensive’

Pioneering and much-loved show that became Channel 4’s longest-running sitcom

Desmond’s ran on Channel 4 with 71 episodes airing between 1989 and 1994, attracting millions of viewers and making it the network’s longest running sitcom.

Set in a barbershop in Peckham, south London, the comedy show features a predominantly black cast and follows the exploits of the Ambrose family.

It was written by St-Lucia born Trix Worrell, who was once voted one of the ‘100 Great Black Britons Throughout History’.

He is a BAFTA nominee and won a British Comedy and Royal Television award.

Alongside Desmond’s, Mr Worrell also penned Channel 4’s Porkpie and London Weekend Television’s What You Looking At. 

Desmond’s was produced by Charlie Hanson, who also worked on No Problem! – the first sitcom to be produced by Channel 4 in Britain.

In the ‘Hello Aunty Susu’ episode, one character says: ‘Baldness is hereditary, like the Japanese are small. 

‘You ever seen a Japanese basketball team?’

Another character then referred to ‘slanted eyes’ and insinuated that Japanese people are not well endowed. 

Desmond’s ran on Channel 4 with 71 episodes airing between 1989 and 1994, attracting millions of viewers and making it the network’s longest running sitcom.

Set in a barbershop in Peckham, south London, the comedy show features a predominantly black cast and follows the exploits of the Ambrose family. 

The warning comes just months after it was revealed the BBC would be editing out racist remarks made by Major Gowen in the comedy drama Fawlty Towers. 

The broadcaster said it would remove the comments by the retired old soldier in the iconic comedy series, which ran for 12 episodes during the 1970s, before the show aired in its Festival of Funny.

The move came less than a year after actor John Cleese, who played Basil Fawlty in the British sitcom, slammed the BBC-owned UKTV for removing an episode of Fawlty Towers which featured racist language made by the Major.

Cleese branded the channel ‘stupid’ for not realising the show was mocking the Major’s use of the ‘n-word’ and added: ‘We were not supporting his views, we were making fun of them.’

In January, the BBC slapped a ‘discriminatory language’ warning on the 1971 Dad’s Army film.

The BBC aired the film with the warning that some viewers may find it ‘offensive’ prompting outraged fans to call for the corporation to ‘stop making issues when there aren’t any’.

The show was written by St-Lucia born Trix Worrell, who was once voted one of the '100 Great Black Britons Throughout History'

The show was written by St-Lucia born Trix Worrell, who was once voted one of the ‘100 Great Black Britons Throughout History’

The broadcaster said the warning ‘has nothing to do with the general content of #DadsArmy, which is a British TV classic,’ but said the film, ‘includes a specific racially derogatory phrase.’

In the same month the broadcaster went on to slap warnings on episodes of Blackadder and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air due to jokes which viewers could find offensive.

Fans watching the comedies on iPlayer were greeted with a message at the start of the offending episodes.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the BBC has also removed episodes of the comedy Little Britain from its servers.

Starring David Walliams and Matt Lucas, Little Britain has long been criticised for its portrayal of black and Asian characters by the white comedians, as well as gay characters and those with disabilities.  

A BBC spokesman said it had made the decision to remove the show as ‘times have changed’ since the comedy first aired in 2003.

MailOnline has contacted Britbox for comment. 

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