Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 15:12 UK

Forsyth urges race slur 'humour'

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth has said people should have a "sense of humour" about the Strictly Come Dancing race row.

There were calls for professional dancer Anton Du Beke to be sacked after he admitted calling his show partner, actress Laila Rouass, a "Paki".

But host Forsyth says that in the past the "slip up" would have been treated in a more light-hearted way.

He told TalkSport: "You go back 25, 30, 40 years and there has always been a bit of humour about the whole thing."

However, more than 400 people have complained to the BBC about Du Beke's comments.

The Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC Radio 5 live said they have also received a record 600 calls regarding Forsyth's comments.

Most of the callers said they thought the veteran host was in the wrong.

"Damn shame"

"Americans used to call us 'limeys' which doesn't sound very nice, but we used to laugh about it. Everybody has a nickname," Forysth said.

Du Beke apologised "unreservedly" for his comment, which he said he made "in jest". Rouass, whose parents are Moroccan, has accepted his apology and said he did not deserve to be sacked.

Forsyth said that should be the end of it: "I'm sure there was nothing vindictive about what he said...the page should be closed on it."

Laila Rouass and Anton Du Beke dancing
Rouass says they have "moved on"

He admitted he was concerned for the dancing couple: "It's a damn shame and I feel for him and Laila, she's a lovely girl."

And he defended Du Beke personally: "He's a lovely, sensitive guy. OK, he can be a bit mouthy and can say quick things off-the-cuff like I do.

"But when you're like that you can slip up every now and again. You can say something that you don't mean."

The BBC is standing by Du Beke despite calls for him to be sacked.

A statement said: "The BBC does not condone offensive language in the workplace. Anton Du Beke has apologised unreservedly to Laila Rouass who has accepted his apology."

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