Leigh Francis risks reigniting 20-year Craig David feud over Bo’ Selecta impression

‘It’s ages ago, isn’t it?’ Leigh Francis risks reigniting 20-year Craig David feud over Bo’ Selecta impression as he tells him to ‘stop talking about it’ – after singer branded him a ‘bully’

Leigh Francis has risked reigniting his 20-year feud with Craig David over his Bo’ Selecta! impersonations as he urged the singer to ‘stop talking about it’ and move forward.

Last month Craig, 41, branded the comedian, 49, a ‘bully’ and a ‘racist’ and branded his apology over his use of blackface on the show ‘insincere’.

But just weeks later, Leigh insisted that the only way for Craig to move on from the drama is to stop highlighting it, before emphasising that his impressions were ‘ages ago’

Uh oh: Leigh Francis has risked reigniting his 20-year feud with Craig David over his Bo' Selecta! impersonations as he urged the singer to 'stop talking about it' and move forward

Uh oh: Leigh Francis has risked reigniting his 20-year feud with Craig David over his Bo’ Selecta! impersonations as he urged the singer to ‘stop talking about it’ and move forward

Bo’ Selecta! saw comedian Leigh perform as Avid Merrion, a stalker who is obsessed with celebrities and featured the comedian doing impressions of various stars using latex facemasks.

Craig was the subject of many sketches alongside Mel B, David Beckham and chat show host Trisha Goddard.

While Leigh assumed the pair buried the hatchet at the wedding of mutual pal Fearne Cotton in 2014, Craig still harboured resentment as he called out Leigh for having a ‘vendetta’ against him and said he ‘normalised bullying’.

Move on?  Leigh insisted that the only way for Craig to move on from the drama is to stop highlighting it, before emphasising that his impressions were 'ages ago'

Move on?  Leigh insisted that the only way for Craig to move on from the drama is to stop highlighting it, before emphasising that his impressions were ‘ages ago’

In retaliation to Craig’s recent criticism, Leigh told The Sun: ‘Most people are happy with their portrayal on Bo’ Selecta!. Apart from someone we know who wasn’t.

‘The only way it’s ever going to go away from him, if he feels people are going on about it, is to stop talking about it.

‘It’s ages ago, isn’t it? It is, 20 years ago. I wish he wasn’t upset. I bumped into him at Fearne’s wedding and we hugged it out and everything was all nice.’

Bo’ Selecta! was first broadcast on Channel 4 in 2002 and ran for three series until 2009, spanning several spin offs. 

Advice: 'The only way it’s ever going to go away from him, if he feels people are going on about it, is to stop talking about it'

Advice: ‘The only way it’s ever going to go away from him, if he feels people are going on about it, is to stop talking about it’

DRama: 'It’s ages ago, isn’t it? It is, 20 years ago. I wish he wasn’t upset. I bumped into him at Fearne’s wedding and we hugged it out and everything was all nice'

DRama: ‘It’s ages ago, isn’t it? It is, 20 years ago. I wish he wasn’t upset. I bumped into him at Fearne’s wedding and we hugged it out and everything was all nice’

In October, the Fill Me In hitmaker blasted Leigh for the depictions, saying they had a hugely negative impact on him.

Speaking to The Times, Craig said: ‘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.’

In the show, Leigh would wear rubber masks of celebrities faces, to which Craig says: ‘When he put blackface on, that was being racist.’

Offensive: Craig was the subject of many sketches alongside Mel B, David Beckham and chat show host Trisha Goddard (pictured Leigh as Craig in the show)

Offensive: Craig was the subject of many sketches alongside Mel B, David Beckham and chat show host Trisha Goddard (pictured Leigh as Craig in the show)

Leigh apologised for the sketches back in 2020, tearfully admitting he ‘didn’t realise how offensive it was back then’.

He said he was ‘deeply sorry for any upset’ he caused for using blackface to dress up as celebrities.

In light of awareness being raised in regards to the Black Lives Matters movement, Leigh tearfully admitted it made him rethink.

He captioned the post: ‘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.’  

In the video, the Celebrity Juice host said: ‘My name’s Leigh Francis. I play a character called Keith Lemon on television. 

Calling him out: Craig slammed Bo' Selecta! as 'bullying' last month and called out the impressions performed by the show's star, Leigh Francis, as 'racist'

Calling him out: Craig slammed Bo’ Selecta! as ‘bullying’ last month and called out the impressions performed by the show’s star, Leigh Francis, as ‘racist’

‘It’s been a weird few days, I’ve sat and thought about things and what I could post to help things.

‘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.’ 

Caricatures: Bo’ Selecta! came out in 2002 and ran on TV until 2009 and saw comedian Leigh do deliberately ridiculous impressions to make fun of celebrities

Caricatures: Bo’ Selecta! came out in 2002 and ran on TV until 2009 and saw comedian Leigh do deliberately ridiculous impressions to make fun of celebrities

But Craig said he felt like the apology was insincere and that he doubted that the comedian had learned anything from the backlash.

He said: ‘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.’

He added that the caricature from the noughties show had impacted his mental health and put him in a ‘really dark place’.

Craig went on to say that he didn’t want to take anything away from Leigh, but that he wanted him held accountable for the show and its effects.

Apology: Trisha Goddard has since revealed that she has accepted a tearful apology from Francis following his racist depiction of her on his show Bo' Selecta! (pictured)

Apology: Trisha Goddard has since revealed that she has accepted a tearful apology from Francis following his racist depiction of her on his show Bo’ Selecta! (pictured)  

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