British actor Idris Elba has pushed back against the censorship of classic sitcoms because of concerns about race, describing himself as “very much a believer in freedom of speech.”
In an interview with Radio Times, the Luther star spoke about the recent removal of shows such as Little Britain, Peep Show, and The Mighty Boosh in response to the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement. “I’m very much a believer in freedom of speech. But the thing about freedom of speech is that it’s not suitable for everybody,” he told the outlet.
“That’s why we have a rating system: we tell you that this particular content is rated U, PG, 15, 18, X…I don’t know anything about X, by the way.”
Elba, whose who will soon reprise his role in his own sitcom In The Long Run for a third series, suggested warning about a show’s content before they begin viewing.
“To mock the truth, you have to know the truth. But to censor racist themes within a show, to pull it… I think viewers should know that people made shows like this,” the Thor star explained. “Commissioners and archive-holders pulling things they think are exceptionally tone-deaf at this time – fair enough and good for you.”
“But I think, moving forward, people should know that freedom of speech is accepted, but the audience should know what they’re getting into,” the Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw star continued. “I don’t believe in censorship. I believe that we should be allowed to say what we want to say. Because, after all, we’re story-makers.”
Despite his criticism of such censorship, Elba remains a fervent supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, whose activists have played a pivotal role in forcing the removal of shows they deem as racially insensitive. Last month, the Cats actor claimed that he has been the victim of racism in Britain since the moment he was born and that his parents taught him he must be “twice as good as the white man” in order to achieve success.
“Success has not negated racism for me. Asking me about racism is like asking me about how long I have been breathing,” Elba said during a live-stream discussion of blackness in the arts. “I was an only child by immigrant parents from Sierra Leone, West Africa. And they worked hard for what they had. This way of life taught me the importance of independence and relying on myself for my own success.”