Nick Robinson apologises after Harry Enfield uses racial slur in radio interview

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Nick Robinson has issued an apology after Harry Enfield used a racist term in an interview.

The presenter branded the comments “offensive” in a social media post he made after the discussion was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding that he is “really sorry a racial slur was used on air”.

On Thursday morning, Enfield defended the use of blackface in comedy, telling the programme that he thinks there should “still be a conversation about it”.

Comedian Harry Enfield blackface comments
Harry Enfield (Ian West/PA)

After he used the word on air, Robinson said: “Just to be clear, Harry, there will be people offended by that term that you have just used.

“You are using it in inverted commas, let’s not repeat it but it is a term that was used at the time.”

Enfield also said that he has used blackface by darkening his skin to impersonate a person of colour “several times in the past”.

“I have played Nelson Mandela in one thing for laughs and I did it because this thing had come round from the BBC that we couldn’t do it any more,” he said.

“So I thought ‘Well, who is my hero? Nelson Mandela’ – who I had the pleasure of meeting once.”

He added that he then considered what the stereotype was for black people.

World Premiere of Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang – London
The comedian said he had worn blackface a number of times in the past (Ian West/PA)

Enfield added that he feels “there should still be a conversation about it, really”.

“I have played Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, David Cameron – four prime ministers,” he said.

“Say if Rishi Sunak became prime minister, I would find it difficult that I would not be allowed to play him because of the colour of his skin.”

He was criticised by fellow comedian Ava Vidal during the radio discussion.

She said: “I’m sure you can take the mickey out of the prime minister without blacking up.”

She added that the use of blackface is “punching down and picking on oppressed people”.

National Television Awards 2020 – Arrivals – London
Ant and Dec have apologised over their use of blackface (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Comedy series Little Britain has also been removed from BBC iPlayer after coming under fire over the use of blackface in some of its sketches.

Last week, comedian Leigh Francis issued a tearful apology for portraying black celebrities on sketch show Bo’ Selecta.

Netflix has also pulled The Mighty Boosh and League Of Gentleman from the service over their use of blackface.

Black Lives Matter protests have taken place around the world following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in the US after a police officer knelt on his neck, prompting greater scrutiny over the use of blackface in the media.

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