Video: British TV show accused of racism

updated 1/20/2007 6:38:24 AM ET 2007-01-20T11:38:24

The British public voted to evict a contestant whose comments had triggered international criticism of the reality TV show “Celebrity Big Brother” for broadcasting alleged racist incidents.

Britons over the last week have filed 38,000 complaints with Britain’s television regulator alleging that Indian actress Shilpa Shetty had been subjected to racial abuse from fellow contestants Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd, both minor British celebrities.

The show held its scheduled public vote Friday, with both Shetty and Goody nominated for eviction from the “Big Brother” house in which the contestants are insulated from the outside world. Goody was the one tossed out.

Neither Shetty nor Goody were fully aware of the furor the show had caused.

After announcing Goody’s ouster live on Channel 4, show host Davina McCall said: “Jade obviously has no idea that for the last week she has been at the center of an international crisis.”

Effigy burned
The alleged racist incidents sparked an outcry in both Britain and India, where protesters earlier this week burned an effigy said to depict the show’s producers. Newspapers have played the debate on front pages, politicians have expressed concern about the alleged racism.

Under public pressure to deal with the issue, Channel 4 said producers had spoken to Goody and Lloyd. Goody, apparently after hearing that some viewers were offended by her remarks to Shetty, broke into tears and said she was “petrified” by the idea of facing the public “because people think I’m a racist.”

“I’ve never been more scared in my life,” Goody said on the show before her eviction.

On Friday night, producers banned the public from outside the “Big Brother” house, where previously fans have greeted whomever is forced to leave the show.

Goody, who became a celebrity after enduring much abuse herself in an earlier edition of “Big Brother,” approached Shetty on Thursday night and apologized, but said she was no racist.

'I'm not a racist person'
Following her eviction, Goody appeared to be stunned when McCall showed her edited footage of the show and the international reaction it had received.

“Oh my God,” Goody said.

“I’m not a racist person, but looking at that film I can see why it’s had the impact it has had.”

On Wednesday, a major sponsor suspended its advertising deal with “Celebrity Big Brother”; a chain of perfume shops pulled the fragrance “Shh..”, endorsed by Goody, from its shelves; and an insurance company canceled its contract with Lloyd.

Britain’s Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who has been questioned about “Big Brother” every day on his current visit to India, said he would not tell Britons how to vote on the eviction — but dropped some heavy hints.

“It’s for people to decide for themselves how to vote, but I think a vote for Britain is a vote for tolerance,” Brown told Sky News.

Broadcasting regulator OFCOM said the number of complaints it received over “Celebrity Big Brother” — about 38,000 — was a record for a British television program.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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