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

Martyn Jones MP, chair Welsh Select Committee
"There are serious question marks over the way the BBC has handled this."
 real 28k

Lord Tebbit
"These remarks should be treated with contempt"
 real 28k

Monday, 12 March, 2001, 07:29 GMT
Welsh jibes get second airing
Anne Robinson
Anne Robinson appearing on Room 101
Controversial comments about Welsh people made by television presenter Anne Robinson have been broadcast for a second time in a repeat of the programme Room 101.

Ms Robinson was described as a "racist" after calling Welsh people "irritating and annoying" on the programme broadcast last week, watched by 4.1m viewers.

The Weakest Link presenter said her comments were made light-heartedly and said people offended by them should "get a sense of humour".

Paul Merton, Room 101
Paul Merton: Refused to put Welsh in Room 101
But North Wales Police said it was investigating a complaint by a member of the public and other annoyed viewers have contacted the BBC and Broadcasting Standards Commission.

Ms Robinson, 57, could also be called by MPs to appear before the Welsh Select Committee to explain her comments.

Lord Tebbit said the remarks should be "treated with contempt".

"I would make sure when she next appears on the television, switch it off; just ignore the woman."

A BBC spokesperson said the repeat of the programme scheduled for Sunday night had not been changed.

Five hundred complaints were made about the programme - but only 80 after transmission, said the spokesperson.

"The programme is still going out, with no cuts.

"To put it in context, if Star Trek goes out half and hour late, we get up to 1,000 calls of complaint."

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

Martyn Jones MP
Viewers on Monday saw Ms Robinson nominate 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.

Clwyd South MP Martyn Jones, who chairs the Welsh affairs committee, 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 has called for her to be sacked.

"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.

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See also:

08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Robinson flies to LA after 'race row'
20 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Anne Robinson - Goodbye Britain?
02 Feb 00 | Wales
'Anti-Welsh racism' protest
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