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12th May 2024

Leigh Francis says Bo Selecta couldn’t be made today because ‘you’ve got to be mindful nowadays’

Ryan Price

The comedian played the controversial character throughout the early noughties.

Leigh Francis has said that his iconic sketch show Bo Selecta couldn’t exist in today’s world because ‘you’ve got to be mindful nowadays’.

Bo Selecta was a comedy sketch show written and created by Francis and writing partner Ben Palmer in the early 2000’s, and was broadcast on Channel 4 from 2002 through to 2009.

The show was known for its brutal lampooning of popular culture, and was lauded for it’s often surreal and abstract toilet humour.

In June 2020, after an agreement between Channel 4 and Francis, the show was taken down from the All 4 streaming site following backlash over its frequent use of blackface.

Speaking on the Craig’s Diary Room podcast, which is hosted by Big Brother winner Craig Phillips, Francis revealed that the show worked because of the timing of it’s creation, and that it simply wouldn’t happen in today’s world of cancel culture.

“When you look back at Bo Selecta, it’s mad,” said Francis. “It was a different time wasn’t it. You’ve got to be more mindful of shit nowadays. It was crazy back then. You could say anything you wanted.

We would do a take and say the weirdest, naughtiest thing. Then, we’d stop and go ‘right, how can we do that again but get away with what we’ve just said’, and you could get away with a lot then. In our first run throughs we would say all sorts.”

Phillips appeared in two episodes of Bo Selecta in 2003, and also featured in Keith Lemon: The Film which came out in 2012.

Following the axing of Bo’ Selecta!, Francis took one of the series characters, Keith Lemon, and created a brand new show, Keith Lemon’s Very Brilliant World Tour, which aired on ITV2 in April 2008. 

The show was a success, and subsequently, Francis created another new show featuring Lemon, Celebrity Juice, which aired for 26 series between 2008 and 2022.

On 4 June 2020, Francis apologised on Instagram, as himself, for his portrayal of various black celebrities on Bo’ Selecta!.

In the video description he added “Following recent events, I’ve done a lot of talking and learning and I would like to put this out there. I want to apologise to anyone that was offended by Bo’selecta. I’m on a constant journey of knowledge and just wanted to say I’m deeply sorry. #blacklivesmatter”.

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