A row has broken out over the treatment of an Indian actress in a British TV reality show. The UK’s media watchdog has received thousands of complaints alleging racism against Shilpa Shetty from other celebrity contestants. Asian commentator in Britain Hamant Verma said: “At some point Channel 4 will have to interfere because it can only escalate. If it escalates to a point where Shilpa is being called racist names behind her back, then I think you’ve got to intervene. You would intervene in ordinary life.”
Shetty herself has not complained and one previous contestant, journalist Carole Malone, says claims of racism should stop: “This is how this sort of thing gets out of control, it isn’t racism, it’s just girls being very silly, very childish and very bullying.”
An MP has even raised the matter in parliament, calling for answers from Prime Minister Tony Blair. “I have not seen the particular programme in question, therefore can’t comment on it. Of course I will agree entirely with the principle he has outlined which is that we should oppose racism in all its forms.”
There have even been demonstrations in India in support of Shetty. The programme makers say they take the claims seriously and will act if they feel any behaviour is inappropriate.