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Criticism over black make-up act

8 October 09 14:54 GMT

A comedy act involving five men in afro wigs and black make-up on their faces during an Australian variety show has been criticised by Harry Connick Jr.

The US singer and actor, who was serving as a judge on Wednesday's Hey Hey It's Saturday, scored the act based on the Jackson Five a zero.

"If I knew that was going to be part of the show I definitely wouldn't have done it," he said.

Host Daryl Somers apologised to Connick Jr at the end of the live show.

"I know that to your countrymen, that's an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologise to you," Somers said.

Multicultural backgrounds

Dr Anand Deva, the frontman of the Jackson Jive act, which also included a man with white make-up on his face playing Michael Jackson, said they had not meant to cause offence.

Speaking to Australian radio 3AW, he said: "Clearly, all of us want to apologise. I mean we have offended some people no doubt, particularly Harry Connick Jr."

He revealed that he is Indian and several of the other members of the group have multicultural backgrounds.

"It certainly was not meant to be racist in any way at all," Dr Deva said.

Speaking on the show, Connick Jr said: "I just want to say, on behalf of my country, I know it was done humorously, but we've spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it really to heart."

Hey Hey originally ran for 27 years, starting in 1971, and the Jackson Jive group first appeared on the show 20 years ago.

They were invited back to reprise their roles during the second of two reunion shows for the once-popular programme.

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