Outrage over the alleged racist abuse faced by Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother travelled beyond the record 30,000 complaints made to the British media watchdog on Thursday. Carphone Warehouse ended its £3 million (Rs 24 crore) sponsorship of the reality TV show.
Meanwhile, a report late Thursday night said Shetty withdrew the allegation. “I don’t feel there was any racial discrimination from Jade’s (one of the contestant of the show the Big Brother) end”, British Channel 4 television quoted her as saying in a statement put on its website.
Channel 4, however, said it had no intention of stopping the show. Chief Executive Andy Duncan said the makers of the programme had spoken to housemates Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd about comments that “might be construed to have racist overtones,” but the women — accused of racially harassing Shilpa — had denied any racist intent.
Duncan added that Shilpa too had told the programme-makers that “she did not feel that behaviour towards her was racist”.
Opposition to the show continued to grow on Wednesday. Tory MP Ann Widdecombe called for the show to be axed, London Mayor Ken Livingstone called the alleged racism “completely unacceptable”, and the Commission for Racial Equality said it would write to Channel 4 to tell them of their legal responsibilities.