Fury over 'racism' against Bollywood housemate

Channel 4 has come under fierce attack from the British Asian community over the alleged racist abuse of the Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty on its Celebrity Big Brother programme.

The broadcaster 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. The Labour MP Keith Vaz led the protests, tabling an early day motion in the Commons after members of his Leicester East contacted him. His motion calls on the programme: "To take action to remind housemates that racist behaviour is unacceptable."

He said: "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."

Channel 4 said it would "take appropriate measures to reprimand such behaviour where necessary", but fell short of indicating it would communicate the unacceptability of racism to housemates. It has also defended its decision not to intervene in the group dynamics, insisting that it had to portray events accurately. Carphone Warehouse, which sponsors Big Brother for an estimated £3m per year, is reported to be reviewing its association with the programme.

The actress and comedian Meera Syal attacked Channel 4's "bland" response to the controversy, which has led nearly 10,000 people to complain. Speaking on the BBC Asian Network, she said: "I certainly wouldn't have taken as much as Shilpa has taken. I'm just wondering if on their last series, for example, the Tourette's sufferer had been called a 'spaz' on a regular basis, whether they would have let that continue?"

By yesterday evening, Ofcom had received 7,600 complaints - the highest ever made about the show - and Channel 4 had fielded a further 2,000 e-mails and calls over the treatment of Shetty, who is also an Aids campaigner.

In Monday's episode, 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. She and Lloyd also complained that Shetty had touched other housemates' food with her hands. Lloyd said: "You don't know where those hands have been." The abuse was started by Budden, who repeatedly referred to Shetty as "the Indian". Budden's behaviour prompted the departure of the film director Ken Russell, who branded her and her family "slum dwellers".

Shetty, the first Indian contestant to appear on Celebrity Big Brother, was largely unknown in Britain until she appeared on the programme. But she is one of Bollywood's best-known actresses, and has been nominated for the Filmfare award four times.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam