UK government-approved regulatory and competition authority Ofcom will be investigating Big Brother after it received 1,225 complaints about three instances of racist abuse in the house, majority of which were in support of an Indian contestant in the show.
More than 1,000 people had voiced concerns to the regulator about the programme and its spin-off show Big Brother’s Bit On The Side.
One incident - in which housemate Conor McIntyre launched a tirade of insults against Miss India UK title holder Deana Uppal - had prompted 1,108 complaints. Many viewers thought that it amounted to bullying.
Big Brother contestant Deana Uppal
McIntyre had been warned about his behaviour by Big Brother, in which he had used a string of expletives and called her “a piece of s***.”
In another instance, which prompted 114 complaints, contestant Caroline Wharram had described a black housemate, Adam Kelly, as a “ridiculous gorilla” with “no sanitation” which some viewers saw as racist.
The house has once again become a racial hotbed after a string of housemates made some regrettable comments.
And in a further incident during an edition of Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, former BB housemate Victor Ebuwa used the word “functioning retard” to describe contestants, prompting three complaints.
Last year the Big Brother was found to have breached the code after airing offensive language immediately following the 9pm watershed.
20-year-old Wharram was summoned to the Diary Room and told that her comments were unacceptable after Big Brother took a zero tolerance attitude toward the remarks.
Big Brother then had warned Wharram that all of her comments were both “unacceptable” and may be deemed “potentially offensive.”
“I really didn’t mean it at all. I just didn’t think. That was really horrible. I’m really sorry,” the Daily Mail quoted Wharram as saying.
She also told Adam: “It’s not a personal attack. I do really like you. I just don’t react well and I’m really sorry. I genuinely like you.”
However, it was too late for the housemate as viewers had already taken to Twitter to slam the demeaning comments and some even called for her to be expelled from the house after she compared the burly male to a gorilla.
Former Big Brother series seven contestant Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace weighed in on the argument and said: “CAROLINE WOULD NOT HAVE USED THE WORD ‘GORILLA’ TO HAVE DESCRIBED ANY OTHER HOUSEMATE, THEREFOR IT WAS A RACIST DESCRIPTIVE END OF #BBUK.”
Another user said: “So caroline called the black guy a gorilla.. Erm! And she’s not kicked out whyyy #bbuk.”
In 2007, Emily Parr had been kicked out of the house for using a racist word to a housemate and in the same year Jade Goody, Jo O’Meera and Danielle Lloyd were involved in a race row against Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.