BBC's Kentucky Minstrels
The BBC's Kentucky Minstrels was a popular radio show, a blackface minstrel series produced by Harry S. Pepper and broadcast by the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) from 1933-1950. The show was an exaggerated depiction of African Americans in the "good ole days" of plantation life in the U. S. South (Kentucky), accentuated with the use of stereotyped racist and sexist humor. The main characters were played for many years by three African Americans who had left the United States for the entertainment business in England: Isaac "Ike" F. Hatch (c. 1891-1961), Harry Scott (1879-1947), and Eddie Whaley (1886-1961). Hatch was a trained vocalist and songwriter who had been a member of the W. C. Handy Orchestra. He moved to England in 1925. Scott and Whaley had worked together as a comic act touring the United States; they went to England in 1909. In 1934, Scott and Whaley became the first black performers to star in a British film, Kentucky Minstrels, directed by John Baxter and written by Harry S. Pepper and C. Denier Warren (who was also an American). A less distorted version of blackface minstrels continued to be broadcast on BBC television during the 1950s and 1960s. A favorite was the Black and White Minstrel Show, which ran from 1958-1978; the show did well in the ratings, drawing an audience of nearly 17 million. For a more detailed analysis and history, see M. Pickering, "The BBC's Kentucky Minstrels, 1933-1950: blackface entertainment on British radio," Historical Journal of Film, Radio, & Television, vol. 16, issue 2 (1996), pp. 161-194; and "Race, Gender and Broadcast Comedy: the case of the BBC's Kentucky Minstrels," European Journal of Communication, vol. 9 (1994), pp. 311-333.