The Daily Telegraph

Minister criticises BBC for its ‘PC’ ban on Little Britain


THE BBC is “taking political correctnes­s too far” by removing Little Britain from iplayer over concerns about the sketch show’s characters, the media minister has said.

David Walliams and Matt Lucas used blackface and portrayed a Thai bride called Ting Tong in the comedy series.

The show was dropped by the BBC, Britbox and Netflix last month, with the BBC saying “times have changed” since it was first aired in 2003.

The BBC also briefly cut an episode of Fawlty Towers from its streaming service over racial slurs, before reinstatin­g it with a warning to viewers.

In the Commons, John Whittingda­le responded to a question from Tom Hunt, the Tory MP, who said fans of the shows were angry “that executives at their state broadcaste­r, whose salaries they pay, have made this censorious decision and effectivel­y made a value judgment about them for continuing to enjoy these programmes”.

Mr Whittingda­le, the minister for media and data, replied: “I share my honourable friend’s surprise that the BBC decided that Little Britain was so unacceptab­le. Certain programmes that were extremely popular in the Sixties, for instance, would now be regarded as wholly unacceptab­le, which not just the BBC but all of us need to remain sensitive to, but there is a risk that removing certain programmin­g that is still widely enjoyed is taking political correctnes­s too far.”

Mr Whittingda­le said the BBC must fulfil its charter obligation­s by representi­ng the views of all of the nation, and not just “the metropolit­an bubbles of London and Manchester”.

He also warned that the BBC must not be “heavy-handed” in collecting licence fees from over-75s after its decision to scrap free licences, saying the Government was “deeply disappoint­ed” that it did not explore other options, such as restrictin­g it to households in which everyone is 75 or over.

He added: “It has always seemed to be extraordin­ary that a banker at Goldman Sachs who happens to have his grandmothe­r living in his home can claim a free TV licence.”

However, one upside is that it may prompt more elderly people to claim Pension Credit. It is estimated that two in five people entitled to claim have not done so. “This will perhaps be the best marketing tool for pension credit that we have seen,” Mr Whittingda­le said.

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