Channel 4 board orders review into 'Celebrity Big Brother'

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The Independent Online

The board of Channel 4 have ordered an internal review into the controversy over alleged racism and bullying on Celebrity Big Brother, which it said it "profoundly regretted". However, it stopped short of cancelling the programme, which is due to continue for another week.

Channel 4 was also facing a second row over racism yesterday. Ofcom said it had received 69 complaints over the reality show Shipwrecked, which sees contestants "stranded" in groups on a South Pacific island. It began on Sunday. Lucy Buchanan, 18, a former public schoolgirl, is alleged to have made offensive comments about black, overweight and gay people.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman defended the decision to broadcast the comments, saying: "When Lucy airs her opinions they are immediately criticised, so viewers are instantly aware that her peers find them offensive and unacceptable. As the series progresses, Lucy's views change as she interacts and is challenged by other contestants."

Jade Goody, who is at the centre of the Big Brother allegations over her treatment of a fellow contestant, Shilpa Shetty, the Bollywood actress, was said to be suffering from "shock and depression" and is under medical care. A statement issued by her management accused the media of bullying her.

After yesterday's meeting of the Channel 4 board, the chairman, Luke Johnson, said the board recognised the events had provoked an " unprecedented" level of complaints, which it believed had triggered an important debate.

The statement added: "Clearly, many people were worried and offended by what they saw. I want to reassure them that we take the views of our audience very seriously and profoundly regret any offence that may have been caused."

The statement stressed that the channel was awaiting the outcome of an Ofcom investigation into almost 40,000 complaints.