Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

BBC defends action over Thatcher

Carol Thatcher
Carol Thatcher was working as a roving reporter for The One Show

The BBC has defended its decision to drop Carol Thatcher from The One Show over an off-air remark, saying she was given "ample opportunity to apologise".

She was axed as a reporter on the show after she referred to a tennis player as a "golliwog" while backstage.

BBC One controller Jay Hunt dismissed claims Thatcher, 55, had made the comment in private.

She said it was "inappropriate" to make the comment in front of "12 other people" in the show's green room area.

They included presenter Adrian Chiles, show guest Jo Brand, a senior Comic Relief charity worker and some journalists, she said.

Meanwhile, a statement placed on The One Show website denied that Chiles or Brand had contacted the press.

'Hugely offensive'

Ms Hunt was responding to criticism, including comments made by Thatcher's spokesman, that the BBC had over-reacted to a private comment.

What I find sad about the entire situation is that we have given Carol ample opportunity to apologise for offence that was caused to key named individuals
Jay Hunt
BBC One controller

The spokesman told The Times that Thatcher "never intended any racist comment" and that she had "made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot when she was growing up".

Ms Hunt told Radio 4's Today programme: "What Carol decides to say in the privacy of her own home or in a private conversation with friends is one thing.

"What she says in a green room space, when there are 12 people, in her capacity as a roving reporter for The One Show is a rather different thing."


Thatcher's comment had been "deemed by a very substantial proportion of the public to be hugely offensive", Ms Hunt added.

"What I find sad about the entire situation is that we have given Carol ample opportunity to apologise for offence that was caused to key named individuals.

"She felt unable to do that and, for that reason, it is not appropriate for her to work on that particular show, but she will continue to work for the BBC and indeed is."

'Instant offence'

On Thursday, Thatcher 's agent, Ali Gunn, told radio station Talksport that the BBC "should be issuing us with an apology" because the corporation had "condoned this leak".

But Hunt said: "She was in a space with 12 other people, some of whom were journalists.

Baroness Thatcher with daughter Carol
Carol Thatcher was crowned queen of the jungle in 2005

"I don't think in that context you talk about snitches and people leaking."

Gunn also claimed Thatcher was the victim of a personal campaign and said: "No-one objected to it at the time."

The One Show website, meanwhile, said Thatcher's comment had caused "instant offence".

"Jo questioned Carol about it at the time but, contrary to some recent press reports, neither she nor Adrian contacted the press.

"The following day, a number of people who had either heard the comment or learned of it, made their feelings known to the show's executive producer who raised the issue with Carol."

Thatcher, the daughter of former prime minister, Baroness Thatcher, was crowned queen of the jungle in the 2005 series of ITV1's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

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Telegraph Margaret Thatcher's distress at BBC treatment of Carol over 'golliwog' comment - 36 hrs ago
Irish News 2,200 complaints after Thatcher 'golliwog' sacking - 38 hrs ago
Grimsby Telegraph 2,200 complaints over Thatcher axe - 38 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Hamleys follows royal golliwog ban - 38 hrs ago
Western Morning News BBC defends axing Carol from show - 40 hrs ago

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