SVT said that at least two scenes will be cut from this year’s staple diet of Christmas television programming.
One scene features a black doll parading before Santa Claus before stamping herself on the behind with Santa’s ‘OK’ quality stamp. The doll has dreadlocks and oversized red lips, corresponding broadly to stereotypes that many find offensive.
A second now-deleted scene shows a man in a green suit with an oversize nose, white beard, and black hat performing a Cossack dance. That has been cut as it could be perceived as playing on stereotypes of Jews.
“Before the annual broadcast, we found out that Disney had cut out these scenes,” said Stephen Mowbray, the broadcaster’s head of programme acquisition.
“They deliver Donald Duck to 40 different countries each year and they’ve previously said that they want to adapt Donald Duck’s Christmas from 1930 to the 2000s. I accept it and think it’s fine.”
Mowbray added that it wasn’t SVT’s choice to cut the scenes, rather that the material was bought with the scenes already deleted.
Millions of Swedes tune in each Christmas Eve to watch the programme, known in Sweden as Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul (‘Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas’).
The show is broadcast at 3pm on SVT, and has been a regular Christmas feature for Swedish families since it was first shown in 1959.
News that the scenes had been deleted made headlines across the country, prompting a range of reactions from viewers. Some thought the change was long overdue, while others regretted that a cherished Swedish Christmas tradition had been altered.
“I know that Disney is in charge, as it has been for all these years. Donald Duck is almost like a religion for many people and I understand that there will be some who are disappointed,” Arne Weise, who previously hosted SVT’s Christmas programming for years, told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
“It would have been worse if they’d taken away Ferdinand the Bull,” he added in reference to another popular character from Sweden’s Christmas Eve programme.
One of the deleted scenes begins at 3min 33 into this clip: