Various comedies removed from streaming platforms

Tuesday 9th June 2020, 6:55pm

Little Britain. Image shows from L to R: Matt Lucas, David Walliams.

Little Britain, Come Fly With Me and The League Of Gentlemen have been removed from a raft of streaming services.

It has emerged that the hit comedy series have been deleted from a number of platforms in recent days.

Written by and starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams, Little Britain began on radio and first transferred to television on BBC Three, running between 2003 and 2006. Quickly becoming a huge hit with audiences it transferred to BBC One and enjoyed an American series, an international live stage tour, and has been the subject of numerous charity sketch revivals in the decade since.

However, amidst increasing debate over culture and history and the representation of ethnic minorities in the past fortnight, the comedy has now been removed from BBC iPlayer; Netflix; and BritBox.

Netflix also removed Come Fly With Me, the comedy duo's follow-up series set around an airport.

It has also become apparent that the platform has deleted The Mighty Boosh and sketch-sitcom hybrid The League Of Gentlemen, although the series remains available as a complete box set on iPlayer at the time of writing.

The BBC said in a statement: "There's a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer, which we regularly review. Times have changed since Little Britain first aired so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer."

Both Lucas & Walliams comedies saw the white comics portray a wide variety of characters, mostly as grotesque cartoon-like caricatures. They include both men and women as well as transvestites and various other ethnicities and a range of sexualities.

The League Of Gentlemen. Papa Lazarou (Reece Shearsmith). Copyright: BBC.

Talking in 2017, Lucas said he "wouldn't make those jokes about transvestites" if making the programme today.

He also said: "I wouldn't play black characters. Basically, I wouldn't make that show now. It would upset people. We made a more cruel kind of comedy than I'd do now."

Recently, the comedy has been the focus of much speculation about its return. A one-off radio special, Little Brexit, was aired on Radio 4 in October 2019 to widespread popular acclaim, whilst a number of key characters were also reprised for the BBC's lockdown charity telethon The Big Night In in April.

The comics are known to have held discussions with Netflix about the possibility of reviving the series, but the new move toward censuring the original series is likely to raise question marks over such plans.

The League Of Gentlemen, meanwhile, was created by and starred Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss, with co-writer Jeremy Dyson. Originating as a Perrier Award-winning Edinburgh Fringe show, a radio version and cult-hit television series followed.

The latter ran for three series (1999 - 2002) and returned in 2017 for three 20th anniversary specials to high acclaim. All have been removed from the American-owned streaming platform.

Like Little Britain and Come Fly With Me, the dark comedy series saw the actors in a variety of guises, playing characters with a range of ethnicities, sexualities, disabilities and other individual characteristics.

Elsewhere, Channel 4's on-demand platform All 4 has removed the sketch show Bo' Selecta!, which also featured 'blackface' characters.

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The Mighty Boosh - Series One To Three

The Mighty Boosh - Series One To Three

Join Howard Moon and Vince Noir on their mad capped and surreal capers: from their origins in Series 1 as zoo keepers through to working in a boutique in Dalston in Series 3.

They are joined by a host of characters, both friend and foe like Bolo the gorilla and Naboo the shamen, the terrifying Crack Fox and Cockney nightmare, the Hitcher.

First released: Monday 19th December 2011

  • Distributor: 2 Entertain
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 7
  • Catalogue: BBCDVD2834

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Little Britain - The Complete Collection

Little Britain - The Complete Collection

Little Britain was the injection that the British comedy sketch-show needed. Matt Lucas and David Walliams have created a host of bizarre characters on a surreal but hilarious tour of the British Isles and its curious inhabitants. Narrator Tom Baker adds insightful and eloquent comments throughout the odyssey!

All of modern Britain is here, including favourites such as Daffyd, the only gay in the village; Jason, the teenager with an unhealthy attraction to his best friend's granny; Marjorie Dawes, the terrifying Fat-fighter group leader and Emily Howard, the rubbish transvestite who likes doing "ladies' things".

First released: Monday 19th November 2007

The League Of Gentlemen - The Complete Collection

The League Of Gentlemen - The Complete Collection

Royston Vasey - It may look like every bleak provincial town you've ever seen, but as for the locals...

Over thress series and a Christmas special we follow the strange, macabre and shocking stories of some of the residents. Edward and Tubbs, brother and sister shopkeepers whose only desire is to keep their customers local and find a bridge for their 'offspring'. Pauline the demonic Restart Officers whose control problem with pens leads to a hostage situation and a touching tale of transvestistic love; plus the 'Dave' orientated world of wife-collecting, circus master Papa Lazarou.

We discover the root of the curse the plagues veterinary surgeon Dr Chinnery, how plastics salesman Geoff Tipps ends up as a stand-up comic in "Lundun"; how butcher Hilary Briss started the nosebleed epidemic; what Herr Lipp got up to in Duisburg and what skills Charlie Hull offered Spit & Polish Beauty Salon.

Along the way we meet the toad-breeding Denton family, Barbara, the local transsexual taxi driver; 1970s band Crème Burlee's guitarist Les McQueen; schoolboy magician Dean Travalouris and many, many more.

First released: Monday 30th May 2005

  • Distributor: 2 Entertain
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 5
  • Subtitles: English
  • Catalogue: BBCDVD1730

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