Page last updated at 09:49 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Rascal 'treated like idiot' on TV


Jeremy Paxman questions Dizzee Rascal in November

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman was "disrespectful" when he asked rapper Dizzee Rascal if he felt British, hip-hop star Estelle has said.

Rascal was interviewed on the BBC Two show after Barack Obama's victory in the US presidential election.

Estelle said Rascal had been treated like "an idiot". "Paxman's not going to get away with asking me do I think I'm British," she told the New Statesman.

The question was "a natural part" of a chat about "Britishness", the BBC said.

"That was so... crazy," Estelle said. "I don't ever want to diss another artist that I know is in the same struggle and grind as me, but it was the look on Jeremy Paxman's face.

"I was like, 'He is taking you for an idiot right now! Did no-one brief you?'"

'Out of line'

In the interview, Paxman asked the London-born Rascal: "Do you feel yourself to be British?"

The rapper replied: "Course I'm British, man - you know me... it don't matter what colour you are.

Estelle said she would like to interview Paxman and make him feel 'an idiot'
"It matters what colour your heart is man, and your intentions.

"I think a black man, purple man, Martian man could run the country - whatever, man, as long as he does right by the people."

Rascal then agreed with Paxman that he might run for a senior political position such as prime minister one day.

Estelle - who scored a huge hit this year with American Boy - said she felt "disappointed" for Rascal when he had "come so far as an artist and a businessman".

"That's disrespectful - you know, what do you think I am?"

And she said of Paxman: "I'd want to question him - and make him feel like an idiot."

The BBC said Paxman's question about feeling British "was a direct response to the preceding comments from Baroness Amos, who was saying that in the UK, as opposed to the US, we don't talk about the nature of Britishness and what it means to be British.

"The topics being discussed were race, nationality and identity, and this question was a natural part of that discussion."

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