Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 16:53 UK

Forsyth says 'Du Beke was wrong'

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth has stressed he does not "excuse or condone" racism after an interview in which he said the Strictly race row was being taken too seriously.

Forsyth told Talksport radio people should have a "sense of humour" over Anton Du Beke's use of the term "Paki".

But in a statement on Thursday, Forsyth said: "To be absolutely clear, the use of racially offensive language is never either funny or acceptable."

Du Beke's comments prompted 487 complaints from viewers.

He was speaking to actress Laila Rouass, his dance partner on the show, during rehearsals.

He has since apologised - and said he was speaking "in jest".

Speaking on Wednesday, Forsyth told Talksport that, in the past, the "slip up" would have been treated in a more light-hearted way.

"You go back 25, 30, 40 years and there has always been a bit of humour about the whole thing."

"Damn shame"

"Americans used to call us 'limeys' which doesn't sound very nice, but we used to laugh about it. Everybody has a nickname," Forysth told Talksport.

He said that should be the end of it: "I'm sure there was nothing vindictive about what he said...the page should be closed on it."

Anton Du Beke and Laila Rouass
Anton Du Beke has apologised to dance partner Laila Rouass

He also said he was concerned for the dancing couple: "It's a damn shame and I feel for him and Laila, she's a lovely girl."

And he defended Du Beke personally "He's a lovely, sensitive guy. OK, he can be a bit mouthy and can say quick things off-the-cuff like I do.

"But when you're like that you can slip up every now and again. You can say something that you don't mean."

The Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC Radio 5 live said they had received a record 600 calls regarding Forsyth's comments.

What Anton said to Laila was wrong and he has apologised unreservedly for this
Bruce Forsyth

Most of the callers said they thought the veteran host was in the wrong.

Forsyth then issued a clarification, in which he said: "I have been asked by a number of journalists to clarify what I meant and am therefore issuing this statement via the BBC, though I must emphasise that these are my personal views and not necessarily those of the BBC.

"What Anton said to Laila was wrong and he has apologised unreservedly for this.

"Nor do I in any way excuse or condone the use of such language. To be absolutely clear, the use of racially offensive language is never either funny or acceptable.

"However, there is a major difference between this and racist comments which are malicious in intent and whilst I accept that we live in a world of extraordinary political correctness, we should keep things in perspective."

Du Beke has apologised "unreservedly" for his comment. Rouass, whose parents are Moroccan, has accepted his apology and said he did not deserve to be sacked.

The BBC is standing by Du Beke despite calls for him to be sacked.

A statement said: "The BBC does not condone offensive language in the workplace. Anton Du Beke has apologised unreservedly to Laila Rouass who has accepted his apology."

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