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Ant and Dec issue heartfelt apology amid Black Lives Matter protests

The Saturday Night Takeaway hosts promised to do better in future

Diane Shipley

Ant and Dec made a heartfelt apology on Wednesday for their TV show Saturday Night Takeaway's past approach to race. The statement, which the long-time friends posted to their joint Twitter page, read: "During past episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway, we impersonated people of colour in the undercover segment of the show. "We realise that this was wrong and want to say that this that we are sincerely sorry to everyone that was offended.

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"We purposely stopped doing this several years ago and certainly would not make these sketches today. We had already taken steps to ensure footage was taken down and have again recently confirmed with ITV that these segments and any other historical content that could cause offence does not appear on either the ITV hub or the Saturday Night Takeaway YouTube channel."

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The statement is the latest celebrity reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has seen protests around the world over the last two weeks following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protests and the discussion they have sparked have prompted several stars to re-evaluate their past work. Ant and Dec's apology comes six days after Celebrity Juice host Keith Lemon, whose real name is Leigh Francis, apologised for portraying black people in his early '00s show, Bo' Selecta!. The 45-year-old shared a video to his Instagram page in which he asked for forgiveness.

Ant and Dec posted the apology to Twitter on Wednesday 

He said: "Hi, my name is Leigh Francis and I play a character called Keith Lemon on television. It's been a weird few days and 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! and portrayed many black people. I didn't think anything about it, people didn't say anything – I'm not going to blame it on other people.

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

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