Between 1957 and 1978, the BBC in the United Kingdom broadcast a now largely unseen/lost program called The Black and White Minstrel Show. As part of a variety show, singers would put on black face paint and perform songs from a variety of genres as part of a modern (for the time) update to the old American Minstrel shows.


Famous singers from the 1960s would go on the show and play a song whilst wearing blackface. This would be considered offensive today, but back then, the show was considered funny.


The show was extremely popular, getting 21 million viewers at its peak. It would get many awards during its time, including the first-ever Golden Rose of Montreux/Rose d'Or to be awarded in 1961 along with many Golden Discs for creating best-selling soundtrack albums throughout its lifespan.

The show though was particularly controversial for its racial elements; starting from the late 1960s, people would frequently write to the BBC calling for it to be pulled off the air, most notably in 1967 as part of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination. It also was not always popular with its performers either: comedian Lenny Henry, who made his television debut in the show in 1976, would go on to state that he regretted acting in it. Conductor George Mitchell also wished to do the show without the controversial makeup. In 1968, he tried "Masquerade" with carnival masks and in 1969, "Music Music Music" with the performers just appearing as themselves. However, neither idea took off.

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