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Last Updated: Friday, 27 January 2006, 16:23 GMT
Galloway: I was promised soapbox
George Galloway
Mr Galloway says he will not take part in any more reality TV shows
George Galloway has said he was promised he could use Celebrity Big Brother as a "soapbox" for his political views.

As he returned to his Bethnal Green and Bow constituency office, the MP said he had been told he would not be censored.

Mr Galloway said he went in the house to gain a platform for his Respect party but his views were blanked out.

Channel 4 said: "George was aware that we are bound to operate under the Ofcom broadcasting guidelines."

'Naive'

A spokeswoman said the MP knew Channel 4 was "subject to certain limitations over what we are allowed to put out. "

I'd rather be a cat than a poodle
George Galloway

She said she was "unaware" whether the show's producers Endemol had specifically told Mr Galloway that when he started talking about politics, birdsong would be played.

"I don't know the details of that conversation," she added.

Mr Galloway said he had been surprised when he emerged from the house to discover his political statements had been masked.

Asked if he had been "naive" in thinking he would be given a platform for his views, he said: "I have been accused of many things in my life but naivety is not one of them".

Tour

"Not only did I not know I'd be censored, I was told by the Big Brother producers I would not be.

"In fact one of the main points that they made when they met me in the House of Commons to persuade me to do it was that it would be a good place to be effectively a soapbox for my perspective on events.

"And therefore I was very surprised when I got out to hear the birdsong over any political statement that I made, but hey I'm getting the chance to speak to all of you here, you wouldn't be here otherwise," he told reporters.

Birdsong is routinely used by Big Brother's producers to mask libellous or offensive comments.

Mr Galloway is about to embark on a nine-date tour of question and answer sessions.

But more than 800 tickets are thought to remain unsold for the event in Northampton - with only 34 sold so far.

Animal magic?

Mr Galloway famously mimicked a cat on the show, pretending to lick milk from Rula Lenska's hands.

On Friday, he said he would probably not pretend to be a cat again but joked: "I'd rather be a cat than a poodle."

He said the media "hysteria" about his appearance was not matched by the views of his constituents, many of whom had supported him.

The MP has already said he will not stand for election again in Bethnal Green and Bow.

He said he had no intention of leaving politics but refused to say whether he would contest another seat.

Six contestants are in contention to win Celebrity Big Brother's series finale on Friday.

They are: comedian Michael Barrymore; actress Traci Bingham; singers Pete Burns and Preston; rapper Maggot; and non-celebrity Chantelle Houghton.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
George Galloway defends his reality TV show appearance



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