Thank you, don't come again: The Simpsons' Apu will no longer be voiced by white actor Hank Azaria after accusations of racism

Telegraph Reporters
The character of Apu has led to accusations of racism against The Simpsons

The actor who plays Apu in The Simpsons says he will no longer be voicing the character after years of controversy and accusations of racism.

Hank Azaria, who is white, lends his voice to Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, an Indian immmigrant who owns and manages the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store.

The Simpsons had been accused of racism over its stereotype of Asians.

Azaria, who has played the character since 1989 and also voices Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy, told Slashfilm: 

"All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore, unless there's some way to transition it or something.

"We all made the decision together... We all agreed on it. We all feel like it's the right thing and good about it."

Known for his catchphrase "Thank you, come again," Apu first appeared in The Simpsons's first season.

The show's writers had attempted to address the issue but were accused of making the issues worse.

During a 2018 episode, Marge was reading a novel that had been adapted for modern audiences to make it less offensive.

The scene ended with Lisa turning to the camera and saying: "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?"

She then looked at a picture of Apu on her bedside table that was inscribed with Bart's catchphrase, "Don't have a cow".

Azaria has played the character since 1989 Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Marge added, "some things will be dealt with at a later date," while Lisa replied: "If at all".

In 2018, Matt Groening, the show's creator dismissed criticism of the character, saying: "I think it's a time in our culture where people love to pretend they're offended."

It was rumoured in 2018 that the show would soon drop the character.

The controversy has grown since Hari Kondabolu's 2017 documentary, The Problem with Apu, in which Kondabolu explored the impact of the character on Asian people in the United States, arguing that the character is a form of "brownface". Other comedians in the documentary relate childhood stories of being called "Apu" or having lines from the show quoted at them by strangers.