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After racism row, Big Brother faces axe

Several members of the Channel 4 board believe that Jade Goody's comments on Shilpa have discredited the show.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2007 19:43 IST

While Shilpa Shetty is now smiling, Celebrity Big Brother show that catapulted her to limelight may be in for difficult times.

The Channel 4 board is meeting in London on Monday to decide if it is worth continuing the reality show in the light of the embarrassing row over the allegedly racist abuses targeted at the Indian actor.

Several members of the board, chaired by former Pizza Express head Luke Johnson, believe that Jade Goody's comments on Shilpa have so discredited the show that it is harming the channel besides damaging race relations in Britain, the Sunday Times reported.

"Does this sort of programme still hold up today?" a senior board member was quoted as asking. "Britain's race relations are still pretty fragile, so we must be very careful."

While the show was criticised last year when Pete Bennett, a sufferer of Tourette syndrome, was subjected to denigrating comments, the Shilpa episode is the first time since Big Brother began in 2000 that any member of the board had publicly questioned if it needs to be axed.

The board members act as custodian of the channel's public service role, and it would be the first time they will meet to discuss this show.

At Monday's meeting, board members, including film producer Lord Puttnam, former BBC News head Tony Hall, dotcom entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox and Karren Brady of Birmingham City football club are expected to ask for a paper to explore what went wrong and to examine if the programme should be ended.

According to the Guardian, Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan will be forced to defend himself over the racism row.

On the show, Goody had last week referred to the Indian contestant as "Shilpa Poppadom" and made fun of her background.

The comments, however, did not go down well with the audience as television regulator Ofcom received 40,000 complaints against the show even as its viewership rose to 5.7 million by Thursday.

The row came to an end on Friday when 82 per cent of the Celebrity Big Brother viewers voted to evict Goody out of the show.

First Published: Jan 21, 2007 19:43 IST