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Series / The Black and White Minstrel Show

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Oh dear.
Weekly Variety Show that debuted on the BBC in 1958. Inspired by traditional American Minstrel Shows, it featured a range of musical performances, mostly done by white people in blackface.

In its heyday, it was a huge ratings hit, achieving viewing figures in excess of 20 million in the early 1960s. Complaints about the show's racism began popping up by 1963 and only intensified afterward, eventually forcing the programme's cancellation in 1978.

Today, The Black and White Minstrel Show is a major source of embarrassment to most if not all concerned - especially the fact that it was allowed to run for as long as it did.


  • Black Face: At the core of the show. Most of the performances featured white male performers in blackface, along with white females who retained their normal appearance.
  • Crossover: A rather strange one on 12 December 1964, when the programme was invaded by Daleks. At this point, the Daleks were appearing in their second-ever Who story ("The Dalek Invasion of Earth"; Episode 4 aired that same night) and had been established as a force to be reckoned with, so here they...took part in dance routines. No, seriously.
  • Long Runner: 31 years between the TV and stage shows.
  • Minstrel Show: As the title indicates.
  • Spin-Off: Two, both by the BBC, in response to complaints of racism.
    • The first, Masquerade, aired in 1968. Here, the main singers appeared without blackface and the black singers wore whiteface.
    • The second, Music Music Music, outright replaced the parent programme in 1969 and had the performers donning no race-based makeup whatsoever. However, this only lasted one series, after which the parent programme returned.
  • Variety Show: Each episode featured a range of musical numbers.