Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Thatcher axed by BBC's One Show

Carol Thatcher
In 2005 Carol Thatcher won I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

Carol Thatcher will no longer work on The One Show after being reported for making an off-air remark, the BBC has announced.

The daughter of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher referred to a tennis player as a "golliwog" backstage during filming of the BBC One programme.

However, the 55-year-old will not be banned from the BBC as a whole.

The corporation said it had hoped Thatcher would issue an unconditional apology but she had declined to do so.

Her spokesman told The Times she made the remark in a conversation with the show's presenter Adrian Chiles back stage and it was "meant as a joke".

"Carol never intended any racist comment," he said.

It is disgusting that we've had a leak of private conversations in the green room - the BBC has more leaks than Thames Water
Carol Thatcher's spokesman

"She made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot when she was growing up.

"There's no way, obviously, that she would condone any racist comment - we would refute that entirely. It would not be in her nature to do anything like that.

"It is disgusting that we've had a leak of private conversations in the green room - the BBC has more leaks than Thames Water.

"Carol is mortified that anyone should take offence at a silly joke. She has summarily apologised."

According to press reports, the comment was made during a conversation about the Australian Open tennis tournament, in reference to a player who had recently been knocked out of the men's singles draw.

The BBC called speculation that Thatcher was referring to Andy Murray "wholly innaccurate", adding she was definitely talking about a black tennis player. It declined to name the athlete.

Apology sought

The corporation said it considers any language of a racist nature "wholly unacceptable".

Lawyer Mark Stephens said the BBC had acted within its rights

BBC arts correspondent David Sillito said the row was about "what is and what is not acceptable to say in a workplace".

He added: "People were upset by what she said in the green room and they complained.

"We understand she has not made the unconditional apology that they sought, and as a consequence of that, her position on The One Show is no longer tenable.

"As far as we understand she believes that it wasn't racist, it was meant in jest."

Conservative peer Lord Tebbit questioned the BBC's decision.

"It does seem very odd that Jonathan Ross can be back broadcasting having made obscene, insulting remarks on the air, and Carol Thatcher, who said something which is allegedly highly offensive but which I rather doubt was meant to be so, in private, should be banned in this way," he said.

"It is probably a bit of a way for the BBC to get back at Carol's mother."

Thatcher, crowned Queen of the Jungle in the 2005 series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, was a regular contributor to the BBC One magazine show.

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