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Hey Hey sketch dubbed 'racist'

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The Hey Hey! It's Saturday reunion is at the centre of a furore after a Red Faces sketch backfired.

The sketch saw six men impersonating Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five with their faces painted black singing "Can You Feel It?". As part of the show's nostalgia, the act had been performed on the show during its original run.

In 2009, it has attracted a much different reaction.

Sitting on the panel was visiting New Orleans musician Harry Connick Jr, who took issue with the performance.

A shocked Connick Jr scored the act 0 and said, "Man if they turned up lookin’ like that in the United States..."

“You’re right actually,” replied Daryl Somers.

“It would be like Hey Hey, there's no more show,” said Connick Jr.

Later in the show Somers apologised to Connick Jr.

"It didn't occur to me afterwards. I think we may have offended you with that act,” said Somers. "And I deeply apologise on behalf of all of us. I know that your countrymen ... that’s an insult to have a black face routine. So I do apologise to you."

"Thanks Daryl," replied Harry Connick Jr "and I just want to say on behalf of my country, I know it was done humorously, but we've spent so much time trying not to make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it really to heart. And I know it was in good fun and the last thing I want to do is to take this show to a down level, because you know how much I love this show and this country ... I feel like I'm at home here.

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

While many viewers have enjoyed the nostalgic return of Hey Hey others insist its humour is dated and blokey.

Meanwhile, US media is already reacting to the sketch, after videos have popped up on YouTube.

New York Magazine called it "pretty awful".

Defamer said: "So, in 20 years, we've gone from this offensive form of comedy being wildly popular to being still popular with the masses, even though some people know better. In America, blackface is one of those things that you can only show if you're talking about how awful it is because, well, it is pretty awful."

Chicago Now added: "Shame on the host and the other judges for trying to act like this performance was acceptable in any part of the world. I seriously had to look at the calendar to see if I had somehow gone on a really bad time travel a la HG Wells."

Even in the UK The Guardian noted, "Seemingly oblivious to the point being made, the host cheerily points out that this is a comeback of sorts -- the Jackson Jive in fact performed this act on the show 20 years ago."

Hey Hey! It's Saturday's second reunion rated 2.3m viewers -- more than the first.

What did you think of the Jackson Jive sketch? Comment below or discuss it in the Hey Hey forum -- and vote in the poll!

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