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BBC Wales's Penny Roberts
"Her comments have done little to boost her personal popularity in Wales"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 16:59 GMT
Robinson comments anger Welsh MPs
Anne Robinson
The Weakest Link star is being asked to explain herself
Television presenter Anne Robinson has been asked to appear before a committee of MPs to explain what some have branded "racist" comments about the Welsh.

The 57-year-old host of the BBC quiz show The Weakest Link has provoked fury among politicians and after she described Welsh people as "irritating and annoying".

There has also been a call for Robinson to be sacked following the comments on Monday night's Room 101 broadcast on BBC Two.


If the remarks had been about black people, or Pakistanis or gays it just would not have gone out

Martyn Jones MP
She nominated Welsh people for inclusion in Room 101 - the fictional space in George Orwell's novel 1984 which contains everyone's greatest fear.

"What are they for?" Robinson asked the show's presenter Paul Merton.

"They are always so pleased with themselves," she added.

Members on the Welsh Select Committee now want the presenter to come to Westminster to "explain herself".

They said they are keen to interview her as part of their inquiry into Wales's overseas image.

Committee chairman, Clwyd South MP Martyn Jones, also said BBC Director General Greg Dyke should be forced to explain why the comments "which bordered on racism" were broadcast.

Martyn Jones , Clwyd South MP and chair of the Commons Welsh Select Committee
Martyn Jones MP: Writing to Greg Dyke
"Anne Robinson's comments must be considered as racist. If the remarks had been about black people, or Pakistanis or gays it just would not have gone out," said Mr Jones.

Mr Jones said Robinson would only argue she was joking if called before the committee and that would give her more credibility than she deserves.

But he said members would be writing to Mr Dyke to find out why the comments had been aired.


People go into the programme knowing they will be making some sort of joke and it will be said in jest

BBC spokesman

Meanwhile, Vale of Clwyd Labour MP Chris Ruane - who said that theoretically the committee had the power to throw Robinson in the tower if she refused to come before the committee - has called for her to be sacked.

"We wouldn't want it to come to that," he said. "Or maybe we would. My message to Anne Robinson is: you are the weakest link - goodbye".

As well as complaining to the police, Welsh civil rights group Cefn is pressing for legal action against the star and the BBC under the Race Relations Act.

The matter is now to be investigated by the BBC board of governors.

BBC National Governor for Wales Roger Jones said he would raise the issue with his colleagues.

A spokesman for the BBC said: "It's a light-hearted programme. People go into the programme knowing they will be making some sort of joke and it will be said in jest."

He added that nothing has been sent regarding legal action, but in the event that it was the BBC would take appropriate action.

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Anne Robinson - Goodbye Britain?
02 Feb 00 | Wales
'Anti-Welsh racism' protest
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