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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 15:52 GMT
Anger over Big Brother 'racism'
Shilpa Shetty
Shetty, 31, is an award-winning Bollywood actress
Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has received more than 3,500 complaints of alleged racism in Celebrity Big Brother against Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

Channel 4, which carries the reality show, has received 1,000 more, making it the most complained about series.

Housemates Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara have been seen making fun of the Bollywood star's accent.

A Labour MP is to table a Commons motion on the issue. Channel 4 said it was taking the matter seriously.

On Monday night's episode, Jo reportedly suggested that Indians were thin because they are always ill as a result of undercooking their food.

The trio also complained that Shilpa had touched other housemates' food with her hands.

Shilpa is too good-looking for her own good - she's an incredibly powerful and beautiful woman
Carole Malone
Evicted contestant
Danielle said: "You don't know where those hands have been."

Jade Goody's mother, Jackiey Budden, repeatedly referred to Shilpa as "the Indian" while she was featured on the show and was unable to pronounce her name.

Goody originally made her name in the third series of Big Brother and had been placed in the house along with her mother and boyfriend.

Act Against Bullying founder Louise Burfitt-Dons said Jade had "not been behaving properly" and the charity had removed her picture from its website. She added Jade had made a donation to the organisation a year ago.

Leicester East MP Keith Vaz has tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons. He said his constituents had contacted him about the issue. The motion calls on programme-makers to take "urgent action".

'Strong woman'

Shilpa's UK manager, Jaz Barton, told BBC Radio Five: "She didn't come into the house to have that sort of harassment.

"You know, she came in there with the full intention to actually embrace the public at large and to be proud of her culture and her heritage and who she is, and now she's faced with all this sort of harassment."

Her mother, Sunanda, told the BBC Asian Network her daughter was tough: "I hope that she will be able to handle the situation. It is a game and there is a life beyond that.

"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."

I think the whole thing has been blown completely out of proportion
Donna, Essex

Evicted contestant Carole Malone said she believed the incidents were motivated by jealousy.

"Shilpa is too good-looking for her own good," she told the Asian Network.

"She's an incredibly powerful and beautiful woman. She is a very strong woman and can handle it. I spoke to her about it when I was in the house."

Carole added: "Shilpa feels that she represents the Indian/Asian community and doesn't want to let them or herself down by retaliating."

'Schoolyard rubbish'

Former Celebrity Big Brother contestant Faria Alam told BBC Radio Five Live: "This is schoolyard kind of rubbish basically, and it is jealousy and it's a combination of things.

"You know, when you're in the house and you have lack of food and things like that everything sort of culminates and it comes to a head."

Ofcom said the number of complaints had risen from 200 on Monday morning to 2,000 on Tuesday morning, and the figures had been boosted by Big Brother fan websites.

A spokeswoman said: "They are coming in a continuous stream."

Channel 4 had described the incidents as "girly rivalry", but on Wednesday said it was taking the matter seriously.

"Big Brother does not tolerate bullying or racist abuse in any form. Big Brother is closely monitoring all the housemates and will take appropriate measures to reprimand such behaviour where necessary," a spokesman said.

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