‘Harmful stereotype’ character removed from David Walliams book

A reprint of The World’s Worst Children will not feature the story about Brian Wong.
‘Harmful stereotype’ character removed from David Walliams book

By Alex Green, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

A short story by David Walliams about a Chinese boy is to be removed from one of his children’s books after it was criticised for depicting “harmful stereotypes”.

A new edition of The World’s Worst Children will be published in March 2022 without the story Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong, with a new story replacing it.

Walliams’ bestselling anthology was criticised earlier this year by podcaster Georgie Ma for including the tale about a boy who was a “total and utter swot”.

Illustrated by Tony Ross, the book was first published by HarperCollins Children’s in May 2016 and featured characters such as Dribbling Drew and Nigel Nit-Boy, sparking a number of sequels and spin-offs.

 

Ma said on Instagram the story was “normalising casual racism from an early age” and criticised Ross’ illustration of the character.

She said: “You can see it’s just got the stereotypical small eyes, and the glasses, and it’s just complete casual racism. It just reminds me of the comics that white supremacists have telling Chinese people to go back to China.”

Ma added to The Bookseller: “Wong and wrong are two words that are commonly used in playgrounds to pick on someone if their surname is Wong.”

After meeting Ma along with a representative of the Asian Leadership Collective, the book’s publisher HarperCollins Children’s agreed to replace the story.

British Comedy Awards 2006 – London
Little Britain co-stars David Walliams and Matt Lucas (Ian West/PA)

A statement from the publisher said: “In consultation with our author and illustrator we can confirm that a new story will be written to replace Brian Wong in future editions of The World’s Worst Children.

“The update will be scheduled at the next reprint as part of an ongoing commitment to regularly reviewing content.”

Walliams and his Little Britain co-star Matt Lucas apologised last year after criticism over their use of blackface make-up in some sketches on the show.

In the series, Walliams sported black make-up and a large afro wig to play the overweight black woman Desiree DeVere.

The programme was removed from Netflix, BBC iPlayer and BritBox in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around the world following the death of George Floyd in the US.

Walliams has been contacted for comment.

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