British broadcaster ditches Celebrity Big Brother
Friday, August 24th, 2007

The next series of British reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother, which sparked a racist bullying row involving Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, has been axed, broadcaster Channel 4 said today. The last series, aired earlier this year, sparked nearly 45,000 complaints from viewers as well as furious protests in India after Shetty was insulted by fellow contestants. Shetty’s profile in Britain has soared since she went on to win.

Senior executives at Channel 4 said that the decision not to air the highly popular show in 2008 was taken as part of a wider shake-up to make room for new programmes. They made no mention of the scandal in announcing their decision. “We’d probably do two (more) series of Celebrity Big Brother if ratings were all we were after,” Julian Bellamy, the channel’s head of programmes, said in a statement.

Director of television Kevin Lygo added that Channel 4 stood for “liberal toleration.” ”That means that it is undeterred by controversy and resolutely determined to air the big issues,” he said. ”It does nobody’s bidding and is unafraid, on occasion, to court unpopularity.”

During the series, Shetty was referred to as “Shilpa Poppadum” and rowed with some of the contestants in response to derogatory comments about the eating habits of Indian people. Channel 4 was ordered in May to air three unprecedented apologies by communications regulator Ofcom.

(Source: AFP)