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The Black and White Minstrel Show

The Black and White Minstrel Show was a British television series that ran from 1958 until 1978. It was a weekly light entertainment and variety show presenting traditional 'Deep South' and Country songs, usually performed in blackface.

The show was first broadcast on the BBC on June 14, 1958. It began as a one-off special featuring the male Mitchell Minstrels[?] (after George Mitchell[?], the manager) and the female Television Toppers[?] dancers in 1957. It was popular and soon developed into a regular 45 minute show on Saturday evenings, featuring both solo and minstrel pieces (often with extended segueing) as well as "comedy interludes". It was produced by George Inns[?] with George Mitchell was musical director.

Audiences regularly exceeded 16 million. The Mitchell Minstrels also had a stage show which ran for 6,477 performances from 1960-1972. The show won a Golden Rose[?] at Montreux in 1961 for best light entertainment programme and the first three albums of songs (1960-1962) all did extremely well.

The show moved to color in 1967, when it was black-and-white the 'blackface' was actually red make-up and shot through filters so appearing solid black.

The show was attacked as racist, a "cultural obscenity", from the early 1960s. Under increasing pressure the show tried a 'whiteface' variant in the 1970s. The last show was on July 1, 1978. Its cancelling was part of a wider reduction in variety programming on British television.



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