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Big Brother put on probation

The board of Channel 4 has decided to put the programme on probation after row over racism, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2007 02:05 IST
Vijay Dutt

Celebrity Big Brother has managed to stay alive—for now, and only just. The board of Channel 4, on which the reality show, at the centre of the current global outrage against racism is telecast, has decided to put the programme on probation.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, the body that will decide whether the offensive comments on the show constituted racism, reacted immediately, expressing disappointment with C4.

"What I had hoped was that the Channel 4 board would at least acknowledge that what we witnessed was racial bullying," Phillips said. Jowell has already said she feels the show presents "racism as entertainment", and finds it "disgusting". Board chairman Luke Johnson expressed "profound regret" for offence that the allegedly racist attacks on Shilpa Shetty might have caused.

Sources told HT the board had spent most of its time discussing the bullying Shilpa faced on the show, and that Johnson had ordered an inquiry into whether the producers used underhand tactics to stoke the rows between her and disgraced housemate Jade Goody.

Johnson told reporters that the board had "commissioned a review of the editorial and compliance processors that support Big Brother". The show would not, however, be yanked off the air, he said. It was not clear who would head the "review", though C4 said it would be "a director".

Meanwhile, the drama surrounding the show continued. The Sun reported on Monday that Goody was feeling "suicidal" after the row. Her agent issued a statement saying she was "completely distraught and receiving medical attention for shock and depression".

Fresh racism row

On Monday night, Lucy Buchanan, a teenage participant in the channel’s new Shipwrecked reality series made offensive comments about black people and homosexuals. "My mind is completely open to different cultures — but I just do not think they should bring them to Britain," Buchanan said.