UK’s celebrity Big Brother receives complaints over “racist behaviour”; three cast members have quit

Houseguests “racist behaviour” on the latest edition of the UK’s celebrity edition of Big Brother, which was won last year by a Paris Hilton impersonator, has resulted in complaints from viewers and others.

One of the celebrity cast members, Shilpa Shetty, has been targeted by other housemates; she’s “the first Indian contestant to appear on Celebrity Big Brother” and “is one of Bollywood’s best-known actresses,” The Independent reports.

Channel 4 “and the watchdog Ofcom have received thousands of complaints about the treatment of Shetty, who has encountered a tirade of insults from the former house-mate Jackiey Budden, her daughter Jade Goody and, to a lesser extent, from the model Danielle Lloyd,” according to The Independent.

Specifically, “the former S-Club 7 singer Jo O’Meara said Indians were thin because they were always ill as a result of undercooking their food,” and “she and Lloyd also complained that Shetty had touched other housemates’ food with her hands. … The abuse was started by Budden, who repeatedly referred to Shetty as ‘the Indian’.”

Labour MP Keith Vaz introduced a motion in the House of Commons “To take action to remind housemates that racist behaviour is unacceptable.” And Vaz said that “Channel 4 has a duty to tell the housemates there are limits. It is totally unacceptable. We can be fun without being rude and insensitive to people about their ethnic origin.” The network said it will “take appropriate measures to reprimand such behaviour where necessary.”

So far this season, three people have quit, with one–director Ken Russell–citing Budden’s behavior.

The Guardian reports that the show has “enjoyed a ratings bounce following the alleged racism row, adding a million viewers compared to Monday’s show.”

Fury over ‘racism’ against Bollywood housemate [The Independent]

Race row boosts Big Brother ratings
[The Guardian]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.