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September 3, 2015

Celebrity Big Brother UK update: 'racism' row spills over

by Martin Conaghan, posted Jan 19th 2007 8:42AM
Shilpa ShettyWhen I posted about the most recent incarnation of Celebrity Big Brother starting up here in the UK a few weeks ago, I didn't really have any intentions of watching the current series, despite commenting that it might actually be worth watching for once.

The reason for this was largely down to the rag-tag bunch of has-beens and would-bes that the Endemol producers decided would be our entertainment for this year, and having watched the first few shows, I had to resist the urge to dip my head into a vat of boiling porridge, rather than watch any more.

However, a few days ago, things started to get very interesting.

Very interesting indeed...

Now, before I start, I should say that I'm not naive enough to believe that so-called celebrities would be placed into a scenario where they are expected to provide some form of entertainment for almost a full month solid without the producers of the show having given them at least some sort of prompting or preparation on what to do, what to expect and how to react in certain situations.

More importantly, I'm well aware of some of the alleged tactics employed by television producers of reality television shows in their various (and nefarious) attempts to maintain or boost ratings.

I should point out before I go any further that the ratings for this current series of Celebrity Big Brother started off quite promising. However, like me, a substantial number of viewers dropped off the radar after the first few nights, and things were looking very bad indeed.

That is, until a "racism" row broke out in the house which has not only sparked a headline war in the tabloid newspapers here in the UK, but made the top story on BBC News Online -- and reached the upper echelons of the UK and Indian parliaments, eliciting comments from the UK's highest-ranking politicians and provoking serious consternation in India.

It all started when three other female housemates, Jo O'Mera and Danielle Lloyd, led by former ordinary Big Brother contestant (and now a bit of a national institution) Jade Goody started ganging-up on the Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty.

What started out as typical Big Brother behavior was quickly leapt upon by a bored media and somehow transformed into a racism debate -- and the ratings quickly mushroomed as a result. Complaints ensued (the figure started at 10,000 and quickly jumped to 30,000 -- in excess of the record number of complaints for a TV show in UK history).

Then, various ministers from the Indian government jumped on the bandwagon, then the Chancellor of the UK Exchequer, Gordon Brown, contributed to the debate, along with the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, David Cameron. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell chipped in her tuppenceworth today too.

Before long, Channel Four were forced into making a statement, and found themselves scrabbling furiously to salvage what was quickly becoming an out-of-control situation.

Today, the show's sponsor, Carphone Warehouse, suspended their advertising arrangement with the show, and the whole situation started to look pretty grim indeed.

And finally, to make matters much worse than they had already been in the past few days, Big Brother spoke directly to Shetty in the Diary Room and the public were informed that the actress does not feel she has been the victim of any kind of racist abuse.

All the while former A-Team member, Dirk Benedict, continues to wander around the house with the cool and calm approach Face Man would have employed if such a storm was wreaking havoc all around him in the early 1980s.

I might just tune in and watch some more of this show before the series is out.

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aileen duffy

waken up world - i have no time for jade goodey but she wasnt being racist. certain individuals and groups have blown this out of proportion and exploited the situation for there own ends. bb inc. The sad part is never mind the carears of the individuals in question - there lives are destroyed

January 21 2007 at 7:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

put a canary in with sparrows and what can you expect
whilst the three girls are ignorant and offensive Shilpa
is not entirely innocent and definitely manipulative, she's no fool, as Simon mentioned ,her over exaggerated reaction to the pronunciation of 'whale' was classic ridicule aimed to belittle Jade. Her quiet chats to Germaine are to my mind just as offensive as Jade and Co's. The exercise here is ,as Martin outlined, to understand the motives of the producers and rather than cry 'rascist' look at the actions of all house members as rats in a maze, an experiment. The producers control the content and camera angles, the viewing public are spoon fed, don't be misguided from the important threads of life- Chelsea at Liverpool- you'll never walk alone lads, c'mon the pool.

January 20 2007 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike m

Simon, I have to disagree....While she may be annoying to some of the housemates, it is only because of the lens they view her from. She hasn't been that controlling, but rather, some feel she has...but they make no effort to cook for themselves, and don't apologize for it....

aside from the cooking thing, their dislike for her has lead to statements such as the following...

"we should pick her up while shes sleeping and put her outside and lock the door" - jack

though unconfirmed, he refered to her as a c*nt OR a p*ki. He's also repeatedly stated he "hates her"

Danielle said "she should f*ck off home"

Jo and Danielle have spoken about Indian people being so thin because they eat undercooked meat on purpose so they throw it up.

Jade has refered to Shilpa's last name as a popular indian entre.

Jade has also asked Shilpa if she lived in a shack...she's a celebrity but lives in a shack? oh, shes Indian, so she must.

Jackiey refused to call her by her name and refered to her as "the indian" and "that indian"

There are more occurences, but the face is, whether Shilpa sees it or not, over 20,000 people see racism.

January 19 2007 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The PC brigade do more to breed racism in the UK than racist groups like the BNP could ever do. There hasn't been a case of racism in CBB, its even debatable if bullying is taking place as bullying would imply Shilpa was completely innocent.

Shilpa has been acting in a manner that is somewhat controlling and she wants everything done her way and often wont let others take part in thinks like cooking, deciding the shopping list ect ect and even when shes in shown to be wrong shes too stubburn to admit shes wrong (Everyone told her a chicken takes 2 hours to cook, she insisted 45 mins and while she left it in for 2 hours she was checking it every 5 mins and as such it didnt cook and was still pink so no-one ate it. The next day she claimed it wasnt eaten because everyone filled themselves up with rice not because she failed to cook it right). That is obviously annoying some people and causing friction and the way Big Brother is this friction is enhanced as they cant get away from it. While the ganging up on her obviously isnt nice we see women on most reality shows being bitchy about other females who do things that they deem to annoy them or alienate themselves and its also something that happens in normal life (Infact while it may not happen as much id say males can do the same also)

On the racism issue Shilpa isnt the only ethnic minority in the house, Jermaine Jackson is also obviously and Jade herself is of mixed race so if it was racial surely they would be targeted also. Not to mention many of the things that are being used by the PC brigade as being racist are things which Shilpa herself has done to white housemates (Taking the piss out of accents for example)

January 19 2007 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Look, I'm Indian and I live in the Midwest. I still think there remnants of racism still left in the country. What happens is that there are pockets of areas throughout the country where there is still tendencies to lash out at people of color. But they are not restricted to the South or the midwest but all over! I live in a predominantly white town which is primarily conservative. That sounds like a bigot town right? But I have never been harassed or been bullied because of my race. Now, about this whole situation! I'm going to be blunt about it. There is still some animosity between Brits and Indians! Is it a generalization of the whole country? No of course not, but the older generation of Brits still have hatred for Indians! I mean the country is starting to rise up in the world while Britain is going down! But the kicker is that when Indians leave India to go abroad for their studies they usually go to US or England and that pisses off some British people. They're still mad about the colonization and to top it off now the Indians are living in their country and are taking advantage of their job market. These racist actions are sparked by jealousy among other things. But do I hate the british for it? No, I feel sorry for those people who have these racial tendences. I think England is a great place to live, hell I have family over there, but I realize that like America there is still some rough spots to work out.

On a lighter note, how can I hate a country that gave me Monty Python and The Office?

January 19 2007 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Saw a thing on Nightline last night about this and became immediately interested. I thought why isn't TV Squad covering this like they have in the past. So I'm glad to see your post on this now. Please keep us inform of what's going on. I did some googling last night but I hit here more often than anywhere else.

I know in the US BB they do those very leading questions to get the houseguest thinking. For all you know they started Jade down that path in the diary room and then had to pull her back after the backlash. Ratings were down so lets stir up the pot so to speak. It will be interesting to see the press after they are out of the house too.

I still can't believe Jermaine Jackson is in celebrity BB in the UK? How odd is that? Is he a big star over there? Just seems odd, that's all.

January 19 2007 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
c t

I would just like to say i think this racism thing is absolutely rediculous if it was a white person there would'nt be the uproar that there is.this bullying was done to Jodie Marsh last year and sometimes i think it was worse for her but because its shilpa and shes indian its classed as racism. i think its about time that the british stuck up for each other and spoke out and said it is not racism instead of all these narrow minded people saying it is.

January 19 2007 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Me thinks you doth protest to much Sean P. Aune.

And for the record I am intolerant of malnourished fat white racists wherever they may choose to live.

January 19 2007 at 11:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sean P. Aune

Wow homerj312, your comment was bigoted at all. I'm sure there are NO bigots outside of the midwest, where I happen to live. Yes, it's true, the coasts are completely free of racists. LA has a stunning track record of no racism. (yes, I know your post was an ATTEMPT at humor, but we'll leave it at that)

January 19 2007 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You wacky Brits, here in America we try to keep our racists in the midwest and feed them crap to get them fat and lazy. We don't put them on highly rated TV series, well excecpt for Kramer but he was just so zany.

January 19 2007 at 10:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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