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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 12:33 GMT
Big Brother cleared over language
Emily Parr
Drama student Emily Parr was removed from the house in June
Big Brother did not breach guidelines by showing contestants using offensive terminology, watchdog Ofcom has ruled.

The decision followed complaints about housemate Emily Parr being shown using a racially offensive word to describe fellow contestant Charley Uchea.

The broadcasting watchdog said that as Channel 4 made it clear the use of the expression was unacceptable, it was not in breach of industry guidelines.

Big Brother was also cleared over the use of the word "poof" in the show.

There was no indication, said Ofcom, that housemate Laura Williams had intended the word to be a homophobic reference or had used it in "a denigratory way".

Its ruling contrasted with its earlier censure of this year's Celebrity Big Brother programme, which was criticised for its handling of the race row involving Indian actress Shilpa Shetty.

'Appropriate justification'

According to Ofcom, around 450 viewers complained after Bristol student Parr was shown saying "you're pushing it out, you nigger," to Uchea.

Laura Williams
Williams was reprimanded for her use of "inappropriate" language
Subsequent conversations about the incident saw further uses of the term by other Big Brother housemates.

The watchdog ruled there was "appropriate justification" for the broadcast of the term and that Channel 4 did not "condone or glamorise seriously antisocial behaviour".

It also dismissed complaints that Parr's welfare had been compromised by the incident and that she had been harshly treated compared with other housemates who used the term.

"In law, Ofcom cannot consider complaints of unfairness made by the general public on behalf of participants in programmes," it wrote in its monthly bulletin.

In a separate incident, around 200 viewers complained about two uses of the word "poof" by Laura Williams.

'Adequate context'

The Welsh nanny was reprimanded after her second use of the term and was subsequently evicted by public vote.

According to Ofcom, "generally accepted standards were applied to this material and adequate context was given".

But it urged broadcasters to exercise care about using the word, making specific reference to Jonathan Ross's house band Four Poofs and a Piano on his Friday night TV show.

This year's Big Brother - eventually won by former data entry clerk Brian Belo - ran for 14 weeks between May and August.

Auditions for the ninth series of the reality TV show begin later this month.

But there will be no Celebrity Big Brother series in 2008 after Channel 4 decided to rest the format.

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24 May 07 |  Entertainment

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