British funnyman Matt Lucas has been forced to defend his latest sketch show with comedy partner David Walliams following a raft of complaints about racial elements of the programme.
The Little Britain duo is back on the small screen in new series Come Fly With Me, based around a fictional U.K. airport, and Lucas and Walliams dress up as a number of characters from different ethnicities to score laughs.
In the episode which aired in Britain on Christmas Day (25Dec10), Lucas is seen with a darkened face and a beard playing a Muslim airport worker called Taaj. He also adopts a West Indian accent to portray a black woman called Precious, while Walliams is seen in a number of guises including as a Middle Eastern employee called Moses.
But the characters have sparked numerous complaints online and some fans have even addressed Lucas directly about their concerns by posting messages on his Twitter.com page.
One fan wrote, "Do you not think that blacking up and adopting an accent is a bit Bernard Manning, and more importantly not funny."
The message prompted Lucas to respond, "Like in Little Britain, we try to reflect, affectionately, the multi-cultural Britain we love. No offence is intended."
A spokesman for the BBC adds, "The characters are representative of all of Britain. Of course no offence is intended."