Little BritainDavid Walliams and Matt Lucas‘ anarchic noughties sketch show, is causing trouble again.

Research by UK media regulator Ofcom found that viewers were shocked that an “explicitly racist” scene from the BBC comedy was available to stream on iPlayer.

Ofcom, via polling company Ipsos, showed 115 people the Little Britain sketch as part of a study into audience expectations on potentially offensive content across linear TV and streaming services.

The scene involved Linda Flint, a university counselor played by Walliams, describing student Kenneth Lao as having “yellowish skin, slight smell of soy sauce … the ching-chong China man.”

First broadcast in 2004, the sketch featured in episode two of Little’s Britain‘s second season and is currently available to view on iPlayer.

“Participants viewed this content as explicitly racist and outdated and felt that society had moved on,” the Ofcom study said. “This content was not considered acceptable for linear TV and many were surprised that it was available on BBC iPlayer.”

Some participants said they found the clip funny, but “seemed embarrassed to say this and could recognise why it would be offensive.”

A content warning on iPlayer says the episode “contains discriminatory language,” but viewers who participated in the Ofcom study said they wanted “a warning about the racist language and an explanation for why it was still accessible.” They also felt it should have an age rating of 15.

Others questioned why the BBC had removed controversial blackface scenes from Little Britain in 2020, but the show continued to feature racist tropes about Asian people.

The study said: “The clip was considered less acceptable because the participants felt it was purposely offensive in stereotyping and targeting an ethnic minority group for comedy purposes.

“Some reasoned that it was important to still show this content to reflect the beliefs of society at the time. However, there were concerns that it could normalise racist behaviours which could be repeated by young children.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “All jokes in our output are judged on context and intent. The sketches in which the character Linda Flint makes reference to the appearance or race of a series of people are intended to expose and ridicule some of the outdated prejudices and racism that still exist in parts of British society, which is more apparent when viewing the sketches within the context of a full episode, and across the series as a whole. The programme is part of the BBC’s comedy archive and information is provided for iPlayer viewers about the inclusion of discriminatory language.”

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