BBC receives 487 complaints after 'Dancing' race row

Friday, October 9, 2009

The BBC has received 487 complaints after Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Anton du Beke used a racist remark for his dance partner. Actress contestant Laila Rouass, who is of Morrocan descent, was called a "paki" by her dance partner during rehearsals for the show. British tabloid News of the World revealed the information from the BBC One programme in their newspaper on Sunday.

By Monday, it had emerged that there had been 63 complaints to the corporation. Since Thursday, the racist comment by du Beke has caused a total of 487 complaints to the BBC. Du Beke has since apologised to Rouass for the comment.

Bruce Forsyth, who presents the show alongside Tess Daly, had an unscheduled interview with radio show TalkSport on Wednesday. During the interview he said that, in days gone by, the remark would not have been treated so seriously. He said: "You go back 25, 30, 40 years and there has always been a bit of humour about the whole thing.

Everybody has a nickname.

Bruce Forsyth

"Americans used to call us 'limeys' which doesn't sound very nice, but we used to laugh about it. Everybody has a nickname," Forsyth stated to the BBC Radio 5 Live show. "I'm sure there was nothing vindictive about what he [Anton du Beke] said...the page should be closed on it. It's a damn shame and I feel for him and Laila, she's a lovely girl. He is a lovely, sensitive guy. OK, he can be a bit mouthy and can say quick things off-the-cuff like I do. But when you're like that you can slip up every now and again. You can say something that you don't mean."

What is your opinion on Bruce Forsyth's reaction?

As a result of the comments made by Bruce Forsyth, the Victoria Derbyshire show received a record 600 complaints from listeners. Afterwards, Forsyth apologised for the comments he made on the show, and released a statement on Thursday saying: "To be absolutely clear, the use of racially offensive language is never either funny or acceptable." A spokesperson for the BBC has also said: "The BBC does not condone offensive language in the workplace. Anton du Beke has apologised to Laila, who has accepted his apology."

Kulvinder Ghir, an actor from Asia, showed his dissatisfaction for what was said on the radio show, stating: "Claiming the word paki is harmless is just ignorance."

There has been calls made from viewers to the BBC over the last few days to dismiss Anton du Beke from Strictly Come Dancing. Earlier this year, former The One Show presenter Carol Thatcher was dismissed from ITV1 reality TV show I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! due to racist remarks she made while on the programme. Despite this incident, the BBC have decided not to sack Anton du Beke from the BBC One dancing show.

The BBC has now had 686 complaints since Friday, an increase of 199 complaints from Thursday.