Idris Elba doesn't agree with censoring or removing old sitcoms

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 14 July 2020
Idris Elba

Idris Elba

'Luther' star Idris Elba disagrees with the idea of censoring or removing old comedies, rather than simply warning viewers before they start watching them

Idris Elba doesn't agree with censoring or deleting old TV shows.

The 47-year-old actor has criticised the removal of programmes from streaming platforms and TV channels because he believes viewers should "should know that people made shows like this", and he is "very much a believer in freedom of speech".

He told the Radio Times magazine: "To mock the truth, you have to know the truth. But to censor racist themes within a show, to pull it ... I think viewers should know that people made shows like this.

"Commissioners and archive-holders pulling things they think are exceptionally tone-deaf at this time – fair enough and good for you.

"But I think, moving forward, people should know that freedom of speech is accepted, but the audience should know what they're getting into."

As well as suggesting content warnings before offending episodes, Idris – who didn't refer to a specific show – called for artists to be allowed the freedom to create.

He explained: "I don't believe in censorship. I believe that we should be allowed to say what we want to say.

"Because, after all, we're story-makers."

In recent weeks, classic comedies such as 'Little Britain', 'League of Gentlemen' and 'The Mighty Boosh' have been removed from streaming services or had some of their episodes edited over concerns about some of their content.

Last month, David Walliams and Matt Lucas apologised for the use of blackface in their BBC One sketch show, which was removed from BBC iPlayer, BritBox and Netflix.

In the statement posted to Twitter at the time, David wrote: "Matt and I have both spoken publicly in recent years of our regret that we played characters of other races. Once again we want to make it clear that it was wrong & we are very sorry. (sic)"

Matt shared the same sentiment, apologising for their portrayal of others amid the Black Lives Matter movement.

UKTV had removed 'The Germans' episode of 'Fawlty Towers', which features John Cleese's character Basil Fawlty shouting the phrase "don't mention the war" while goose-stepping around his hotel, but UKTV later revealed they were reinstating the episode after providing some "extra guidance" for viewers. The original episode also featured hotel guest Major Gowen using racist language when telling an anecdote about the West Indies cricket team. According to reports, some broadcasters had already started editing out Gowen's scenes.