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Jun 17, 2007 at 01:06pm IST

Shilpa faces racist bias on UK TV

New Delhi: Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty is having a tough time on the British reality show Big Brother.

A media watchdog in UK is investigating complaints that some other participants used racist slurs against Shilpa on the show.

Ofcom has received over 2,000 complaints from Channel 4 viewers that Shilpa was called a "dog" and "The Indian".

Shilpa is one of the nine participants on the show and joined it two weeks ago. The show chronicles the activities of the participants after they are locked in a house together. The complainants have taken exception to the fact that other participants made fun of Shilpa's accent.

Also one of the contestants, who has since been voted out of the show, used to repeatedly refer to her as the 'The Indian', something which has irked Shilpa's fans. Big Brother is broadcaster Channel 4's most popular programme and Shilpa has signed a Rs 3-crore deal to appear in the show.

The television watchdog in London said it had received 2000 complaints from viewers that the star was a victim of racist bullying, the reports said. Fans, upset by the racist behaviour, have voiced their concerns on Internet forums.

Shilpa is one of nine celebrities whose activities are being filmed after they were locked in a house together on January 2. A spokeswoman for Ofcom said, "Quite a lot of websites have been discussing the issue and urging people to get in contact with us."

Viewers believe that Shilpa has been targeted by Jade Goody, a previous contestant on the non-celebrity version of the show, whose gaffe-prone persona turned her into a tabloid star, Danielle Lloyd, a former beauty queen, and Jo O'Meara, who was in short-lived pop group S Club 7.

Goody has said Shilpa 'makes my skin crawl', while Lloyd has called her 'a dog'. O'Meara refused to eat a chicken roasted by Shilpa, because she claimed it was too spicy and undercooked, prompting Shilpa to burst into tears.


Jackson Five star Jermaine Jackson consoled Shilpa by quoting the words of his brother Michael's hit Man In The Mirror. "They need to look in the mirror before they can make that change," he told her. Show producers sought out Shilpa and reportedly paid her more than the others -- up to £350,000 -- to bring Bollywood glamour to proceedings and attract viewers with south Asian roots.

An evicted housemate Carole Malone said she believes the incidents were sparked off by feelings of jealousy. "Shilpa is too good-looking for her own good," she told the Asian Network.

Shilpa's mother Sunanda Shetty told the BBC Asian Network her daughter is "tough" and hoped she "will be able to handle the situation.

“It is a game and there is a life beyond that. I mean, I understand her emotions but I really hope that she is not going to get too affected by this treatment that is being meted out to her," she was reported to have said.

Originally done as a one-off tie-in series by Channel 4 in association with the BBC's Comic Relief charity telethon, Celebrity Big Brother is now a full spin-off of Big Brother UK, shown on Channel 4. The series features B list and C list celebrity contestants living in the Big Brother House, trying to avoid being evicted by the public, to win a large cash prize to be donated to the winner's nominated charity at the end of the run.


I had the misfortune of seeing the Indian representative Ms Shilpa on the show.She's got what she deserves. It is the biggest display of over acting and melodrama I have ever seen. At the best of times she's irritating and comes across as a total fake. She's is a total embaressment to the Indians.
Shilpa on www.ibnlive.com

Nothing wrong with racism. It would prevail for centuries to go. Racism is prevalent even with animals. To fix an economic value, man has branded each and everything, and the same logic extends to branding of humans based on race. One cannot help avoiding that.

Suresh on www.ibnlive.com

I am appalled by Jo, Danielle's and Jade's comments against Shilpa, yes Shilpa can be annoying at times but don't they all? Racism is absolutely disgusting and unnecessary. The way they talk about Shilpa's home country is disgraceful.

Andy on www.metro.co.uk

They are clearly racist, there's no question of it. Shilpa stands out more because she is from India. They really are nasty to her and jade is just trash, has no self respect and no morals. Shilpa might get annoying but she doesn't deserve all that abuse.

Sam on www.metro.co.uk

If Big Brother doesnt tell Jo, Danielle and Jade to stop bullying her, I bet the South Asians are gonna start taking serious action out there. How dare they cows treat her like that? Be strong Shilpa!

Perfcon on www.youtube.com

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