Comedian Leigh Francis apologises for playing black celebrities on Bo’ Selecta

Comedian Leigh Francis has issued a tearful apology for portraying black celebrities on sketch show Bo' Selecta.

The comic played stars including king of pop Michael Jackson, singer Craig David and talkshow host Trisha Goddard on the show, which first aired in 2002.

Francis – who plays the Keith Lemon character on TV – used latex facemasks for his caricatures of famous faces.

Amid a renewed focus on the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd, Francis said he had "done a lot of talking and learning" and decided to apologise.

In a tearful video posted to Instagram, he said: "It's been a weird few days, I've sat and thought about things and what I could post to try and help things.

"Back in 2002 I did a show called Bo' Selecta, I portrayed many black people. Back then I didn't think anything about it, people didn't say anything, I'm not going to blame other people.

"Been talking to some people, I didn't realise how offensive it was back then.

Leigh Francis
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Leigh Francis
Comedian Avid Merrion with TV presenter Davina McCall (L) and actress Patsy Kensit during the launch of the Bo' Selecta Christmas single, the Sonny and Cher classic, I've Got You Babe, held at the Virgin Megastore, Oxford Street, central London.
Russell Brand (left) and Leigh Francis arrives for the More4 launch party
(left-right) Leigh Francis, David Walliams, Courtney Love, Matt Lucas and Myleene Klass at the British Comedy Awards 2006 at the London Studios in south London.
Leigh Francis presents an award at the Vodafone Live Music Awards 2007 at Brompton Hall, Earls Court, London, SW5.
Leigh Francis and Liz McClarnon at the Company Magazine 30th Birthday Party at the Proud Galleries in Camden, London.
(left-right) Harry Enfield with his Loaded Legend Award, Paul Kaye with the Funniest TV Personality award and Leigh Francis with the Funniest Man Award at the 6th Annual Loaded LAFTA Awards, held at the Cuckoo Club in London.
EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY FEBRUARY 27, 2009. Comedians Leigh Francis (left) and Paddy McGuinness practice for Lets Dance for Comic Relief, which will be transmitted on BBC1 on Saturday February 28, 2009.
(left to right) Martin Harvey (who plays Johnny in the show), Leanne Rowe (who plays Baby), Leigh Francis and Paddy McGuinness backstage at the stage production of Dirty Dancing at the Alywych Theatre in central London in preparation for their performance in the final of BBC's Let's Dance for Comic Relief.
Caprice and Leigh Francis sport Comic Relief red noses during a kissing session at London's Euston train station, in support of Comic Relief.
Leigh Francis and Ke$ha on stage during the 2010 NME Awards at the O2 Academy Brixton, London
Rich Fulcher, Leigh Francis, Michael Fielding, Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh pose with The Best DVD Award backstage in the NME Awards Room at the 02 Academy Brixton in London.
Comedy performer Leigh Francis and his mum Pat arrive at the Planet Hollywood Mothers' Day Brunch in London.
Alexandra Burke after winning the Ultimate UK Music Star, presented by Leigh Francis, at the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards at Banqueting House in London.
Emma Willis and Keith Lemon attending the National Television Awards, at the O2 Arena in east London.
Leigh Francis (right) presents the Satellite/Digital TV Personality award to Eamonn Holmes at the TRIC (Television and Radio Industries Club) Awards held at the Grosvenor Hotel in London.
Leigh Francis and Holly Willoughby arriving for the 2011 TV Choice Awards at The Savoy, Strand, London.
(left to right) Leigh Francis, Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby collect the award for Panel Gameshow on stage at the 2012 NTA Awards at the O2, Greenwich, London
Holly Willoughby, Leigh Francis aka Keith Lemon and Fern Cotton, of Celebrity Juice, winners of the Comedy Panel Show, backstage at the National Television Awards 2012 at the Greenwich Arena London.
Left to right. Holly Willoughby, Leigh Francis and Fearne Cotton arriving for the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2012 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
Laura Aikman, Leigh Francis aka Keith Lemon and Kelly Brook arriving for the UK Premiere of Keith Lemon : The Film, at the Vue West End, London.
Fearne Cotton and Keith Lemon arriving at the world premiere of 'Keith Lemon: The Film' at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square, London.
Keith Lemon shows Emma Bunton (left) and Holly Willoughby under his kilt at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in Edinburgh.
Fearne Cotton, Keith Lemon and Kelly Brook during the 2014 National Television Awards at the O2 Arena, London.
Kelly Brook and Keith Lemon during the 2014 National Television Awards at the O2 Arena, London.
Amy Willerton and Leigh Francis arriving at the 2014 TV Choice Awards, The Park Lane Hilton, London.
Alesha Dixon and Leigh Francis during the House of Fraser BAFTA TV Awards 2016 at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday 8th May 2016. See PA Story SHOWBIZ Bafta. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Leigh Francis and Paddy McGuinness arriving at the National Television Awards 2017, held at The O2 Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: 25th January, 2017. See PA Story SHOWBIZ NTAs. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Keith Lemon (left) and Ashley Roberts at BUILD for a live discussion at AOL's Capper Street Studio in London.
Leigh Francis and Paddy McGuinness attending the ITV Palooza held at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London.

"I just want to apologise, I just want to say sorry for any upset I caused whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David, Trisha Goddard, all people I'm a big fan of. I guess we're all on a learning journey."

In the caption, Francis, 47, apologised again and used the hashtag #blacklivesmatter.

Francis, also known for his work on ITV panel show Celebrity Juice, was one of millions of social media users to take part in Blackout Tuesday, posting a black square to highlight racial inequalties.

It follows the death last month of Mr Floyd, who died in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis, sparking protests around the world.

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