Benedict Cumberbatch has called himself an "idiot" and apologised for describing black actors as "coloured" during a televised debate about the lack of diversity on British TV screens.
Ironically, the Sherlock star was actually discussing the lack of opportunities for non-white actors and campaigning for that to change when he used the term.
Cumberbatch was on The Tavis Smiley Show on PBS when he said:
I think as far as coloured actors go, it gets really different in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in America] than in the UK, and that's something that needs to change. Something's gone wrong, we're not representative enough in our culture of different races and that really does need to step up a pace.
And while his aim was noted, many people quickly picked up on his terminology.
British anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card praised Cumberbatch for raising awareness about diversity issues but told The Independent his wording was inappropriate.
Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society. ... In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language. Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term "coloured" is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage.
Cumberbatch has since released a statement to MailOnline apologising and insisting he has learnt from the mistake.
I'm devastated to have caused offence by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done.
I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive.
The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the UK and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term.
I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have. I apologise again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply.