Ant and Dec 'sincerely sorry' for using blackface on Saturday Night Takeaway

Anthony McPartlin (left) and Declan Donnelly Credit: Ian West/PA

Ant and Dec have apologised for a segment of the ITV show Saturday Night Takeaway in which they impersonated people of colour using blackface.

The pair darkened their skin and wore prosthetics for the undercover sketch - in which they pranked famous faces while in disguise.

The presenting pair said they would not make those sketches today and had requested ITV remove them from the ITV Hub, their streaming catch-up service.

The episodes have since been removed.

Their statement follows weeks of anti-racist protests around the world, sparked by the death of unarmed black man,George Floyd, in the US.

A statement on the presenting pair's Instagram and Twitter accounts said: "During past episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway we impersonated people of colour in the Undercover segment of the show.

"We realise that this was wrong and want to say that we are sincerely sorry to everyone that we offended.

"We purposely stopped doing this several years ago and certainly would not make these sketches today.

"We had already taken steps to ensure footage was taken down and have again recently confirmed with ITV that these segments, and any other historical content that could cause offence, does not appear on either the ITV Hub or the Saturday Night Takeaway YouTube Channel."

The pair wore blackface in 2003 as they dressed up as two fictional Jamaican women, Patty and Bernice, to prank Emmerdale cast members.

And in 2004 they dressed up as two Japanese girls, Suki and Keiko, using make-up and exaggerated accents.

Earlier this week the BBC removed Little Britain from BBC iPlayer, Netflix and BritBox because "times have changed" since the comedy first aired, the broadcaster said.

David Walliams sported black make-up and a large afro wig to play the overweight black woman Desiree DeVere.

Matt Lucas also used blackface to play Pastor Jesse King, who said he was "from the ghetto" and spoke in tongues to cure the sick.

Last week, comedian Leigh Francis issued a tearful apology for portraying black celebrities on sketch show Bo’ Selecta.