Kate Garraway asked a guest to put away a puppet that was likened to a black and white minstrel as she felt “uncomfortable” having it on the Good Morning Britain news desk.
Children’s entertainer Brian Llewellyn appeared on the programme to defend traditional Punch and Judy puppet shows, which have been criticised for promoting violence, and to discuss whether they should be adapted for modern society.
In the midst of the heated discussion, which saw Garraway’s co-host Charlotte Hawkins and guest Trisha Goddard also airing their views, Garraway became increasingly bothered by one of Mr Llewellyn’s puppets.
Holding up the puppet, with dark face, white eyes and lips, Mr Llewellyn said: “This has been the character since 1662.”
TV presenter Goddard replied: “So were the black and white minstrels.”
“You say it’s a minstrel, I say it’s a black singer,” Mr Llewellyn replied, as Garraway said it was “offensive to many people”.
Goddard: “Why has he got white around his mouth? Why don’t you take that away?”
He said: “It’s like, why does Mr Punch have a red nose? It was just the paint…”
Garraway said that it was of its time, “which we now feel is racist and many people all the way through”.
Mr Llewellyn said that “it’s only this last couple of weeks that this has actually been mentioned” to him, before Garraway said: “Can I just say, Brian, it’s actually making me feel slightly uncomfortable, you having it there.
“If you don’t mind putting it down?”
She added: “I don’t think it’s right that we should have it on the show.”
Mr Llewellyn said he will be “painting his lips differently” from now on.
The discussion saw the entertainer, who was recently asked by a school remove the violence from his Punch and Judy performance, defending the long-standing British puppet show.
He was also asked to scrap a recent performance because it was due to take place next to a women’s refuge.
Mr Llewellyn told the programme: “People are reading too much into it.
“Yes, Mr Punch hits Judy, I’m not getting away from that, and he hits the baby, but it’s puppets, it’s a silly little puppet show.
“Mr Punch is naughty, he’s a bad person, he doesn’t just hit Judy.
“If anyone has watched this programme from the start this morning, you’ve seen two clips, 15 seconds out of a 45-minute show.”
Goddard said she thinks the show should be adapted, and have the part where Mr Punch hits Judy, his wife, removed from the storyline.
“If schools deem it unacceptable… and bigger organisations feel uncomfortable with it for whatever reason, there is going to be a squeeze on this,” she said.