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Horrible Histories star says it ‘may have been racist’ when cast spray-tanned their faces

Star of BBC children’s show Horrible Histories says it ‘may have been racist’ when cast spray-tanned their faces to play Egyptians

  • Actor Mathew Baynton, 42,  said spray paints to play Egyptians may be ‘racist’ 
  • Baynton said the core actors of historical show were a ‘bunch of white people’ 
  • He ‘never dreamed’ he’d look back at show and ‘not be sure’ about characters 

BBC children’s show Horrible Histories may have been racist when cast members sprayed-tanned their faces to play Egyptians, one its stars has been suggested.

Lead actor Mathew Baynton, who appeared in all five series of the original CBBC show, said it could be argued that the series ‘did blackface’ when portraying historical figures.

The sketch show, which first aired in 2009, taught children about historical events through skits stuffed full of blood, battles and black humour.

Each episode featured a selection of sketches from different eras and civilisations, including ancient Egypt, for which actors spray-tanned their skin and wore wigs.

Actor Mathew Baynton was part of the original cast of the popular CBCC show, which teaches children about history 

The 42-year-old actor, who also stars in BBC's Ghosts, told an Oxford student newspaper that it could be argued that the cast had done blackface by getting spray tans to play Egyptians

The 42-year-old actor, who also stars in BBC’s Ghosts, told an Oxford student newspaper that it could be argued that the cast had done blackface by getting spray tans to play Egyptians

Mr Baynton also said the original cast of the show was 'a bunch of white people' and that it would probably be more diverse today

Mr Baynton also said the original cast of the show was ‘a bunch of white people’ and that it would probably be more diverse today

Mr Baynton, 42, told Oxford student newspaper Cherwell ‘that whole issue’ of portraying historical figures in the context of race ‘is one worthy of continuous discussion’.

‘The line has been moving. We didn’t do blackface, for example, but you could argue that we did. Because I played Egyptians, you know, for example, where you’d get a spray tan, essentially, and stand in your pants. That whole sort of issue, I think, is one worthy of continuous discussion.’

Mr Baynon, who played historical figures including Charles II and William Shakespeare on the show, said the cast would likely be more diverse today but the lead actors in Horrible Histories were ‘basically a bunch of white people’.

‘He said: It’s a really difficult one, because on one side, that was a gang show, essentially. And we were the gang and we were sort of portraying everyone.

‘Now the producers obviously realised that there was a line, because when it came to dealing with Africans and African Americans and slavery, for example, which we touched on, [they] quite rightly cast other people.

Baynton, pictured playing Incan lord Pachacuti, said creators should 'be allowed to some extent to learn and grow and move the times'

Baynton, pictured playing Incan lord Pachacuti, said creators should ‘be allowed to some extent to learn and grow and move the times’ 

‘I’m sure now that the core ensemble is more diverse than we were as a core ensemble, where the approach then was basically a bunch of white people.’

It comes amid a change in on-screen standards that has seen shows including Little Britain culled from streaming platforms over backlash for their portrayal of black and Asian characters by white comedians.

Popular sitcom Fawlty Towers also had an episode temporarily removed from UKTV over ‘racial slurs’ and ‘outdated language’.

Mr Baynton added: ‘It’s funny, because I look at things [like] Little Britain, for example.

‘Well, that must have seemed obviously wrong at the time. But I never would have dreamed, then, that a few years later, I’d be looking back at Horrible Histories and going, “not sure I should have been playing that”.

‘I think that just shows how we all have to be allowed to some extent to learn and grow and move with the times.’

The BBC was contacted for comment.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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