Strictly Come Dancing: BBC defends Anton Du Beke in race remark row
The BBC was forced to defend its decision not to drop Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke today after the dancer made a racist remark in rehearsals.
The corporation received scores of complaints after it emerged that Du Beke called his dancing partner, the actor Laila Rouass, a "Paki". Du Beke, who also fronts the BBC1 gameshow Hole in the Wall, apologised after his comments were published in the News of the World.
The BBC denied accusations of double standards given that it had axed Carol Thatcher from The One Show in similar circumstances earlier this year.
The controversy centres on remarks Du Beke made two weeks ago, when Du Beke reportedly said Rouass "looked like a Paki" after she turned up with a spray tan – prompting her to storm out.
"I must say immediately and categorically that I am not a racist and that I do not use racist language," he said. "During the course of rehearsals Laila and I have exchanged a great deal of banter entirely in jest, and two weeks ago there was an occasion when this term was used.
"There was no racist intent whatsoever but I accept that it is a term which causes offence and I regret my use of it, which was done without thought or consideration of how others would react. I apologise unreservedly for any offence my actions might have caused."
Rouass, who has an Indian mother and Moroccan father, accepted his apology. "It was a situation which happened that we have moved on from and I accept his apology," she said. "I'm really enjoying the show and dancing with Anton and hope we can go as far as possible in the competition."
Thatcher was forced out for calling a tennis player a "golliwog" in remarks that, like Du Beke's, were made off air, but overheard by colleagues.
The row over Du Beke's remark has echoes of the Celebrity Big Brother race row in 2007, which tarnished Channel 4's flagship show and contributed to the decline that led to it being axed this year.
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I know we have a few Strictly fans on here, so what do you make of Anton's remarks? Racism? Or just political correctness gone mad?