Hey Hey It’s Saturday host Daryl Somers has apologized to Kamahl, saying he is “ deeply sorry ” for humiliating the singer after speaking out about being racially mocked on the show.
Kandiah ‘Kamahl’ Kamalesvaran, who was born in Malaysia to Tamil Hindu parents, revealed over the weekend that he was the target of a series of racist jokes about the popular variety program.
The 86-year-old said the most offensive sketch took place in 1984 when a stage hand covered his face with white powder before presenter John Blackman shouted off-screen, ‘You’re a real white guy now, Kamahl, you know that? ‘.
While Blackman shot back after the all-telling interview and asked why the singer didn’t confront him 37 years ago, Somers offered a heartfelt apology Wednesday morning.
Somers is now set to host Seven’s reboot of Dancing with the Stars, after hosting the original seven seasons from 2004 to 2007. Shown with Sonia Kruger
The 69-year-old said he was in the process of filming Dancing With The Stars All-Stars, but wanted to acknowledge historical footage from the program “ that people found understandably offensive. ”
“I want to make it very clear that I and all members of the Hey Hey team do not endorse racism in any form,” he wrote on Facebook.
“I’ve always considered Kamahl a friend and supporter of the show, so I deeply regret all the pain he has felt as a result of everything that has happened on the program in the past.”
He said the entertainment broadcast was “never intended to offend anyone” and acknowledged that some of the skits about the show, which ran from 1971 to 1999, are “downright inappropriate” and would not air today.
Kandiah ‘Kamahl’ Kamalesvaran (pictured) is an Australian singer who was born in Malaysia to Tamil Hindu parents
Pictured: A scene on Hey Hey It’s Saturday where Kamahl was doused in white powder. On Saturday, the singer said the sketch left him ‘humiliated’
Pictured: TV veteran Daryl Somers apology to Kamahl after the singer revealed he was repeatedly ‘humiliated’ on Hey Hey It’s Saturday
Kamahl responded with a public message to Somers saying he had accepted the apology.
“This is to say that I, Kandiah Kamalesvaran, AKA Kamahl, accept and acknowledge Friend Daryl Somers’ apologies without reservation,” he wrote.
In his interview on Saturday, Kamahl said The Guardian: “There were some instances where I felt humiliated, but I didn’t want to object or protest.”
“I kept smiling and pretending everything was okay.”
Speaking about the sketch in 1984, he said, “Friends of mine in America saw that and to this day they can’t believe anyone would treat an artist with such disdain.”
Kamahl accepted that his profile had been helped by appearing on shows like Hey Hey, and admitted that he needed the fame to build his career and popularity – although he didn’t realize what a ‘minefield’ it would be.
Last week, Somers caused controversy when he said Hey Hey would not survive the current climate of ‘cancel culture’.
Footage has surfaced of Daryl Somers’ most shocking moments on the classic variety show Hey Hey It’s Saturday, which ran in its first run for 28 years
A comment was also made about Kamahl having to smile so that ‘we can see him’ (photo) during the show
In one scene, Daryl Somers wore blackface while impersonating Malaysian-born singer Kamahl
“ You probably couldn’t get away with half of the things you could do on Hey Hey right now because of the political correctness and the cancellation culture, ” he told News Corp.
“It’s a shame, because showbiz doesn’t get much of a chance.”
Kamahl hit back at the comments, saying he believed some people were missing the point when using the term “ cancel culture. ”
“They’re just trying to limit unnecessarily vulgar or crude terminology or jokes or whatever,” he said.
Somers said too he was not happy with the shift of public taste to more ‘politically correct’ jokes, but accepted that the world is changing.
“ A lot of comics can’t work much because what would have been just ironic before can easily get them into trouble, ” he said.
‘I can’t say I’m in love with it, but it’s a changing world we live in and you just have to work around things.’
The show made regular use of cartoons and drawings, one of which depicted Kamahl with a bone through his nose
John Blackman worked on the show for 28 years, from 1971 to 1999 (cast shown)
After Kamahl’s interview with The Guardian, Blackman hit back to the singer on Facebook.
“Thank goodness Kamahl, 37 and you are still” humiliated, “Blackman wrote.
‘You knew where my booth was!
“If you felt so sad about my ‘joke,’ you should have marched up to it, had a quiet word in my ear, and I would have refrained from making any further ‘racist’ comments forever.”
While the former voiceover artist admitted he sometimes ‘cringe at what we got away with’ when looking back on old episodes, he doubled down on his comments in a fiery tweet on Monday.
Kamahl joins the Cancel Culture Club – retroactive strikes [Hey Hey It’s Saturday], ‘Blackman wrote.
John Blackman (pictured) took to Facebook to ask why Kamahl hadn’t expressed concerns with him about the comment at the time
“John Blackman wants to know why I did not file any complaints at the time,” Kamahl wrote on Twitter
He compared firing HHIS to “shooting Bambi or fish in a barrel,” saying, “Good man, Kamahl.”
A montage of some of the most controversial Hey Hey jokes featuring Kamahl was shared on social media this week, drawing comments mainly in support of the singer.
A particularly scandalous joke saw the lighting department ask Kamahl to smile so that ‘we can see him’.
Another extraordinary clip since the re-release shows a much younger Somers wearing a blackface pretending to be Kamahl.
“You were born and raised in Sydney?” In another episode, Somers (right) appeared to be fooling a third generation Sino-Australian audience member (center) when he introduced her to the camera
Somers darkened his skin with makeup and wore a wig while performing on stage with the singer.
Other jokes depicted cartoon versions of him with a bone through his nose, and as a pair of bright white teeth against a black background.
In one scene, an off-screen voice was pondering whether his new album might turn ‘black’ instead of gold.
A clip showed Somers laughing at a third generation Sino-Australian audience member when he introduced her to the camera.
“I’m originally from Sydney,” the woman said.
Somers then asked, ‘You were born and raised in Sydney? I thought you were saying your background is abroad somewhere. So no one in the family speaks Chinese? ‘
Last year, Somers was called up to perform Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World in blackface on the 1980s show.
Another incident in 2009 involved a comedy troupe dressed as the Jackson Five in blackface for Hey Hey’s regular Red Faces talent show segment.
American singer Harry Connick Jr. was a guest judge on the program and gave the performance a score of zero, saying he would never have appeared on the show had he known it was going to be blackface.
Somers apologized to Harry at the end of the live segment, saying, ‘We may have offended you with that act and I apologize deeply on behalf of all of us.
“Knowing that to your countrymen, it’s an insult to have such a blackface routine on the show, so I apologize.”
Kamahl did not blame host Somers, suggesting that he did not blame him, saying he was a ‘bystander’ who did not ‘encourage or stop’ the jokes.
When asked if he thought Hey Hey could come back, Kamahl cautiously told The Guardian that he was in favor of ‘smart’ and ‘witty’ humor, but ‘if it’s c ** p, we might be able to do without’.
In 2010, a new 20-episode season went into service, but the variety show did not return in 2011.