Benedict Cumberbatch apologises for 'coloured' remark

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch has said he is an "idiot" and is "devastated to have caused offence" after he described black people as "coloured" on US television.

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In full: Cumberbatch apology for 'coloured' offence

Benedict Cumberbatch has been criticised for using the term 'coloured'. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Benedict Cumberbatch has issued a statement after using the term 'coloured' on a US show during a debate about diversity.

"I'm devastated to have caused offence by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done.

I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive.

The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the UK and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term.

I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have.

I apologise again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply."

– Benedict Cumberbatch

Anti-racism charity criticises Cumberbatch remarks

British anti-racism educational charity 'Show Racism the Red Card' said the term 'coloured' is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence.

Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society.

The lack of representation of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds within certain industries in the UK is an issue which needs addressing, and we are pleased that Benedict has spoken out in support of more appropriate representation and of the views of actors and campaigners like Lenny Henry.

In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language.

Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term 'coloured' is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage.

– Show Racism the Red Card


Cumberbatch used term 'coloured' on US talk show

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch made the comments in a debate on the US talk show Tavis Smiley where he was talking about the lack of diversity on British screens, saying Hollywood offered more opportunities to black actors than the UK.

I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here (in the US) than in the UK and that's something that needs to change.

Something's gone wrong, we're not being representative enough in our culture of different races and that really does need to step up a pace.

– Benedict Cumberbatch
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