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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 19:32 GMT
Big Brother row reaches Commons
Shilpa Shetty
Shetty, 31, is an award-winning Bollywood actress
A row over remarks made to Celebrity Big Brother's Shilpa Shetty will be raised in Parliament after thousands of viewers complained to the TV watchdog.

Leicester East MP Keith Vaz said he tabled the Early Day Motion after being contacted by his constituents.

Almost 10,000 complaints have been received by both regulator Ofcom and Channel 4, which broadcasts the show.

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

We would not tolerate this kind of racism on other types of programme
Keith Vaz
Leicester East MP

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

Show's influence

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

Lloyd said: "You don't know where those hands have been."

Mr Vaz said the motion, designed to raise matters of concern, emphasises the influence the show has on viewers.

"We would not tolerate this kind of racism on other types of television programme and we should not do so on a programme that is watched by millions of people," he said.

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

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

"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."

'It is a game'

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."

Channel 4 had earlier 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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