Goody evicted as 'Big Brother' becomes referendum on racism
Jan 20, 2007 - 1:48:07 PM

London, Jan 20 - In what turned out to be an impromptu referendum on public attitudes to racism in Britain, 82 percent of viewers voted to evict Jade Goody, who was accused of racist behaviour towards Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on reality TV show 'Celebrity Big Brother'.

Exhorted by London Mayor Ken Livingstone to vote out Goody to reaffirm Britain's anti-racist commitments, Friday night's voting turned out to be more than a usual voting on a reality show. The choice before viewers was to vote for either Goody or Shetty.

Unlike earlier occasions, no crowds were allowed as Goody left the 'Big Brother' house. Broadcaster Channel 4 had banned the crowds to prevent any attempt at Goody's lynching. To ward off criticism that Channel 4 was profiting from racism, the channel pledged proceeds of the phone voting lines to charity.

After Goody left the house, she was interviewed on Channel 4 and was visibly surprised when clips of her controversial behaviour were played to her and was told of the diplomatic row it had sparked.

When her comments against Shetty, who she referred as 'Shilpa Poppadom', were read back to her, she said: 'Oh my God, maybe I am racist. I look like a complete and utter nasty small person - the sort of person I don't like myself.

'I am not a racist and I sincerely, with my hand on my heart, apologise to anyone I have offended out there.'

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Hertfordshire police, which is reviewing tapes of the show following complaints of racism, said: 'We will be interviewing housemates if and when necessary. We're still conducting our inquiries.'

In an intriguing twist, it was revealed that Goody's mother Jackiey Budden, who called Shetty 'the Indian' and refused to pronounce her name properly, is a practising Muslim who performed prayers while in the house. The prayers appear to have been cut from footage shown in the nightly TV updates.

Shetty was heard sobbing as Goody's eviction was announced, saying she would 'pray' that Goody would 'have no problems' as a result of the highly-charged events of the last week. The two had made up before the eviction.

'I think it's a sequence of events that created that misunderstanding and made me believe for maybe a fraction of a second that I thought she was being racist but I don't think so today, in hindsight, that she was being racist,' Shetty said earlier.

As complaints to television regulator Ofcom reached 40,000, viewership of the reality show rose to 5.7 million by Thursday.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, said the programme had exposed the reality of racism in Britain. 'This has laid bare the dark heart of private prejudice that all too often sits behind the public veneer of tolerance and tells us we still have work to do to feel at ease with our diversity.'

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