'The League of Gentleman' Pulled from Netflix over Blackface

Actor Reece Shearsmith has insisted Papa Lazarou was "not me doing a Black man"

BY Brock ThiessenPublished Jun 10, 2020

Following the removal of Little Britain over its use of blackface, U.K. comedy The League of Gentlemen has now also been taken off Netflix for similar reasons.

Created by Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, Jeremy Dyson and Mark Gatiss, The League of Gentlemen began in 1999 and ran until 2002, with various reunion specials following.

While Netflix doesn't appear to have made any formal statement about the removal of The League of Gentlemen, the decision appears linked to the character Papa Lazarou, played by Shearsmith.

In a recent interview with The Independent, Shearsmith — who is white — attempted to explain the character, saying it was not his intention to use blackface to portray himself as a Black man.

"It was not me doing a Black man," he said. "It was always this clown-like makeup and we just came up with what we thought was the scariest idea to have in a sort of Child Catcher-like way."

Regardless, The League of Gentlemen will now no longer be available on Netflix. For now, however, the show is still available on BBC iPlayer, and it's unclear if the British broadcaster will also remove the show.

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