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Celeb Big Brother nears 9,000 complaints over racist jibes

LONDON - Complaints of racism on 'Celebrity Big Brother' have continued to pour in all day to Ofcom, which had received a total of 7,600 by 5pm today compared with 200 yesterday, and Channel 4, which has received around 1,000 calls.

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Mounting viewer outrage over comments made about Indian contestant Shilpa Shetty, has left Channel 4 in danger of achieving the record for Ofcom's most complained about programme, eclipsing the BBC's 'Jerry Springer: The Opera'.

It is understood the majority of the complaints received by Ofcom relate to comments made by contestants Jack Tweed, Jackiey Goody and ex-S Club 7 singer Jo O'Meara towards Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty.

By this morning, Ofcom said the number of complaints had reached 2,000 and during the afternoon this has almost doubled.

Channel 4 has said it would take any allegation of racism on the programme extremely seriously, and added it was closely monitoring all actions of the housemates.

A spokesperson for the programme said: "We don't tolerate any racist abuse in any form. 'Big Brother' is closely monitoring all the housemates and will take appropriate measures to reprimand such behaviour where necessary."

It is yet unclear whether there have been any explicitly racist comments directed towards Shetty, but a number of incidents already indicate there is a tense and unhappy atmosphere in the 'Big Brother' house.

Shetty was repeatedly referred to as "The Indian" by ousted housemate Jackiey Goody last week, and her accent was mocked by O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd, who also described her as "a dog".

Channel 4 said that it chose to censor an obscenity by Tweed directed at Shetty, which has been interpreted as racist, but the broadcaster argued that had the comment been racist they would have aired it on the grounds it revealed Tweed's true character.

Meanwhile, anti-bullying charity Act Against Bullying has disputed a report in today's Daily Mirror, which said that it had dumped Jade Goody as a patron.

Louise Burfitt-Dons, founder of Act Against Bullying, said: "Jade Goody has never been a spokesperson for this charity. Nor is she a sponsor. She made one donation a year ago and for that we are very grateful."

The racism allegations follow a number of complaints received earlier in the 'Celebrity Big Brother' series, which alleged that Channel 4 had been censoring the five-times daily prayers of Muslim housemate Jermaine Jackson.

Despite the unprecedented number of 'Celebrity Big Brother' complaints, which is now six times higher than the amount Ofcom received for the TV footage of the execution of Saddam Hussein, it is still eclipsed by the 9,000 complaints received in 2004 for 'Jerry Springer: The Opera'.

The bullying has swung support behind the Bollywood star, according to bookmaker Paddy Power. Its odds on Shilpa have tumbled from 7/1 to 7/2 second favourite.

However, while she's second favourite Shilpa is now also the 3/1 favourite to quit the house should she reach breaking point.

Meanwhile, Paddy Power has made Channel 4's 'Big Brother' show just 6/1 to be scrapped this year because of the bullying behaviour in the house.

Sharon McHugh, spokesperson for Paddy Power, said: "There appears to be some unsavoury bullying tactics being used in the house which even neutral housemates like Ian 'H' Watkins and Dirk Benedict have picked up on. It's not the first series of 'Big Brother' that has faced bullying allegations, but will it be the last?"

Big Brother Latest Betting
7/4 Cleo
7/2 Shilpa
5/1 Dirk
13/2 "H"
7/1 Jermaine
10/1 Jade
16/1 Jo
40/1 Danielle
66/1 Jack

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