Craig David Says Bo’ Selecta Was ‘Racist’ And Ruined His Life

Singer Craig David has slammed the Channel 4 TV show Bo’ Selecta over its 'racist' portrayal of him.
Credit: Alamy & Channel 4

Singer Craig David has slammed the Channel 4 TV show Bo’ Selecta over its ‘racist’ portrayal of him.

The show ran from 2002 to 2009 and was created by Leigh Francis, better known as Keith Lemon.

It featured the presenter doing impressions and imitations of famous celebrities under heavy prosthetics.

One of the characters that regularly appeared in Bo’ Selecta was Craig David, and in a recent interview with The Times, he described the programme as ‘bullying’.

Watch Craig David talk about how he was bulled in the media below…

The ‘7 Days’ singer said: “[Leigh] was highlighting characteristics he felt would trigger us personally. Every sketch felt personal.

“It felt like a vendetta and when it got a following, it became something that affected me. People would shout at me on the street and I felt the same feeling I had when I was bullied at school.

“Leigh Francis had normalised bullying by making it comedy.”

The ‘Fill Me In’ singer admitted that, initially, he was intrigued by the show, but he did not like Francis’ portrayal of him.

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David was also not impressed by the comedian’s makeup and branded it ‘racist’.

The ‘Rewind’ singer said: “It was bullying across the board for everyone. When he put blackface on, that was being racist.

“I’d laugh it off, or run from it. When you’re younger, you think you can ride through this but it chips away until you’re in a really dark place.

“I knew things weren’t right. I was humiliated but had to appear all shiny and positive. I wasn’t ready to confront what that show had done to me.”

Keith Lemon as Craig David.
Leigh Francis’ impression of Craig David has been described as ‘bullying’ by the singer. Credit: Channel 4

During the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, Francis came out and apologised for his impressions on Bo’ Selecta after receiving backlash.

In an Instagram video uploaded to his account, he said: “Back in 2002, I did a show called Bo’ Selecta, I portrayed many Black people. 

“Back then I didn’t think anything about it, people didn’t say anything – I’m not going to blame other people.

“I’ve been talking to some people. I didn’t realise how offensive it was back then.

“I just want to apologise, I just want to say sorry for any upset I caused whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David, Trisha Goddard, all people I’m a big fan of. I guess we’re all on a learning journey.”

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However, despite his apology, David felt it was insincere and Francis hadn’t learnt from the reaction.

He explained: “We can all apologise when on the back foot. The moment of expressing his apology seemed very coincidentally timed. 

“Has he reached out to any of the people he did on his show? He hasn’t reached out to me. Has he gone to communities to talk about bullying? Racism? And to be educated? You can only ask him.

“All I’ve seen since his apology is people still tweeting him thinking Bo’ Selecta! is fun and the tone of his response being very much still, ‘I’m the funny guy here’.

“That he still plays it like a joke after his apology tells me everything.”

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.