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BBC Adds “Attitudes Of Its Time” Warnings To Old Shows On iPlayer After Blackface Controversy

Deadline logo Deadline 2020-07-01 Jake Kanter
Michael Fielding, Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Rich Fulcher posing for the camera © BBC

The BBC’s streaming service iPlayer has started adding new warnings to certain shows that people may find offensive following the controversy over blackface performances in comedy.

Archive comedies, including The League Of Gentlemen and The Mighty Boosh, now feature a little “i” logo, which carries a warning that they reflect attitudes of their time.

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Here’s the full quote: “The Mighty Boosh is a classic comedy which reflects the broadcast standards, language and attitudes of its time. Some viewers may find this content offensive.”

Furthermore, when watching iPlayer through Sky, viewers are greeted with the same message and have to click “ok” before the show begins to stream.

The warning was not present on The League Of Gentlemen and The Mighty Boosh last month and comes after the shows were scrubbed by Netflix for featuring white actors in black makeup.

The BBC, Netflix and others also removed Little Britain and Come Fly With Me from their libraries after the British comedies featured blackface sketches. Creators David Walliams and Matt Lucas later apologized for the sketches.

And it’s not just shows featuring blackface comedy that iPlayer is labeling. Similar warnings also feature on classics including Porridge and the 2020 reimagining of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, which carries the message: “This film is set in the 1980s and reflects the language and social attitudes of its time.”

The BBC pointed out that it is not unusual for iPlayer content to carry warnings, but these latest messages reflect the fact that streamers are having to be cognisant of fast-changing social attitudes to old television shows and films. In the U.S., HBO Max removed and then restored Gone With the Wind with the warning that it “denies the horrors of slavery.”

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