Comedian Leigh Francis has apologised for any hurt he caused by impersonating black celebrities on Bo’ Selecta!
The 47-year-old said ‘after a weird few days’ he’s been reflecting on his former TV creation and considered how offensive some of his act was.
Speaking on camera from his home, the star looked emotional as he admitted he was still on a ‘learning journey.’
He began: “Hi, My name is Leigh Francis and I play a character called Keith Lemon on television.
“It’s been a weird few days. I’ve sat and thought about a things and what I could post to try and help things.
“Back in 2002 I did a show called Bo Selecta and 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,” he added.
“I’ve been talking to some people and I didn’t realise how offensive it was back then and I just want to apologise.
“I want to say sorry for any upset I caused whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David or Trisha Goddard… all people who I am a big fan of.
“I guess we’re all on a learning journey.”
Bo’ Selecta! was broadcast on Channel 4 and ran for three series between 2002 and 2004 and spawned several spin offs and a Top 10 Christmas single.
Leigh impersonated a string of famous faces in the show and also appeared as celebrity stalker Avid Merrion who was obsessed with tracking down his TV and music heroes.
The comedy attracted a loyal following but also came under a fair share of criticism.
Singer Craig David previously described the portrayal of him as ‘hurtful beyond belief.’
Speaking to the Sunday Times in 2007 he said: “Inside it was absolutely p**ing me off and hurtful beyond belief. There were times when I thought I just want to knock this guy out.”
David did appear in the show as himself but said he regretted the decision even during the filming process.
“I didn’t want people to think, ‘Craig’s reacting to it,’ because then they would think, ‘How can we get up Craig’s nose even more?’ So, I did it, but I wasn’t happy about it.”
He later made peace with Francis.