'30 Rock' blackface episodes withdrawn at Tina Fey's request as she apologises

Albertina LloydEntertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
Yahoo Celebrity UK
'30 Rock' starred Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Tina Fey, Jack McBrayer and Tracy Morgan and won 10 Emmy awards. (AP)
'30 Rock' starred Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Tina Fey, Jack McBrayer and Tracy Morgan and won 10 Emmy awards. (AP)

Tina Fey has apologised for the use of blackface in her sitcom 30 Rock and requested the episodes be removed from circulation.

The 50-year-old comedian and Robert Carlock, co-creator of the NBC comedy, have asked that four episodes of the series in which characters appear in blackface be removed from streaming and syndication.

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Fey wrote in a note obtained by Variety: “As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation. I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images.

“I apologise for pain they have caused. Going forward, no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honouring this request.”

Read more: John Cleese criticises decision to remove 'Fawlty Towers' episode from UKTV

Tina Fey has apologised for the use of blackface in '30 Rock'. (AP)
Tina Fey has apologised for the use of blackface in '30 Rock'. (AP)

Some of the episodes have already been removed from Amazon and Hulu, and will no longer be available on any streaming platform or for online purchase by the end of the week.

They include a live episode from series six originally aired in 2012, in which guest star Jon Hamm appeared in a wig and blackface, as part of a spoof of an old US radio and TV show titled Amos 'n' Andy.

Two episodes featured Jane Krakowski's character Jenna in blackface.

Believe in the Stars, from series three involved Jenna and Tracy Jordan - played by Tracy Morgan - deciding to swap identities in order to determine whether black men or white women faced more challenges in society. It originally aired in 2008.

Read more: Harry Enfield defends use of blackface in comedy

The other episodes to be removed are Christmas Attack Zone from series five and the East Coast version of season five's Live Show. It was the first 30 Rock live episode and aired in 2011.

30 Rock - a sitcom about a fictional live sketch comedy show starring Fey, Morgan, Krakowski and Alec Baldwin - is based on Fey’s experiences as head writer on Saturday Night Live. It originally ran from 2006 to 2013 winning numerous awards, including 10 Primetime Emmys.

'30 Rock', starring Jack McBrayer, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski and Alec Baldwin ended in 2013. (Getty Images)
'30 Rock', starring Jack McBrayer, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski and Alec Baldwin ended in 2013. (Getty Images)

In the wake of the global Black Lives Matter protests - sparked by the death of George Floyd - several comedy shows have been removed from streaming platforms due to their use of blackface.

These include The League of Gentlemen, The Mighty Boosh and Little Britain.

Little Britain’s Matt Lucas and David Walliams have apologised for their use of blackface in the BBC comedy.

Comedian Leigh Francis has also issued an apology for portraying black celebrities - including Craig David, Michael Jackson and Trisha Goddard - on sketch show Bo’ Selecta.

HBO Max has removed the 1939 film Gone with the Wind due to its racist portrayal of black characters, and said they would re-add it with a new introduction putting the film in historical context.

And UKTV has taken down Fawlty Towers episode The Germans - which includes racist language to describe cricket teams from the West Indies and India - with plans to reintroduce it with an "offensive content and language".

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