Comic Relief to stop flying celebs to African countries amid ‘white saviour’ row

Comic Relief will stop sending British stars and production teams to Africa following criticism they were going to the continent and "white saviours".

The charity has also announced that they will cease using images of unwell and undernourished people in their video appeals.

Rather than jetting British teams across the world, they will now use local filmmakers and photographers to create the heartbreaking pieces of footage.

The move has been praised by co-founder Sir Lenny Henry who has said it is a "huge move" allowing "young black and brown filmmakers" to share their stories.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "I think it's about time.

"And it's not to say that the films that have been made in the past weren't extraordinary and didn't have a huge effect."

The 62-year-old went on to say: "But it's time for young black and brown film-makers to take charge and say, 'I want to tell you my story'.

"There are other ways to elicit sympathy – and maybe we'd been pushing on the same button for too long."

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Last year, a promotional picture of BBC documentary presenter Stacey Dooley sparked a national debate after she was pictured holding a child during filming.

She was branded a "white saviour" by Tottenham MP, David Lammy.

In a scathing Twitter post, the Labour MP said: "The world does not need any more white saviours. As I've said before, this just perpetuates tired and unhelpful stereotypes.

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"Let's instead promote voices from across the continent of Africa and have a serious debate."

He later insisted that his issue was not with Stacey before adding that he didn't question her "good motives".

The Shadow Lord Chancellor who is of Guyanese descent said: "Comic Relief has a huge platform and privilege and it is the first and major way children learn about Africa.

"If they only show Africans as helpless victims to be pitied, children miss the broader picture of huge progress in Africa.

"Comic Relief should be helping to establish an image of African people as equals to be respected rather than helpless victims to be pitied."

He added: "It would therefore be better for people who actually live there to speak about the continent they know.

"Many black Brits feel deeply uncomfortable with Comic Relief's poverty porn. It's my job to represent their views however uncomfortable.

"They want their children to have rounded views about Africa and these types of campaign woefully fail to do that."

Other celebs who have taken part in appeals filmed in Africa include One Direction, Girls Aloud'sKimberley Walsh and Ed Sheeran.

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