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|Police are Watching You, Big Brother|
- Probe started as C4 deny racism in new statement, but reveal Jade and Shilpa will both face eviction vote
POLICE are to scan tapes of Big Brother after receiving complaints from viewers citing racism and following official requests from the Indian government.
Millions of people watched the Channel 4 programme Wednesday night, to be treated to an extraordinary row between Shilpa Shetty and Jade Goody, ostensibly over the correct use of Oxo cubes.
Goody's hate-filled outburst against the Bollywood star was the latest in a string of bullying attacks involving her and her two allies in the show, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara.
Danielle suggested Shilpa "f**k off home", while Jo has made fun of Shilpa's eating habits. The actress's skin colour and accent have also been the subject of snidey comments and sneering giggles.
Hertfordshire police, on whose patch the reality TV show is filmed, said they would analyse key moments from Big Brother, but said that the investigation was not yet a criminal one.
Channel 4 has so far denied charges of racism, instead putting the dispute down to a "cultural and class clash." Despite the fact Shilpa confided in another housemate that she thought the bullying was racist, C4 said that since she did not complain directly to them in the Diary Room, they will give Jade, Danielle and Jo the benefit of the doubt.
"What constitutes racism is a complex question," read a C4 statement put out on Thursday afternoon.
The statement revealed that both Jade and Shilpa will be up for eviction on Friday and that it will be for viewers to decide on the rights and wrongs of the issues raised.
While it is unlikely police will step in, the fact they are involved is one more symptom of how seriously the Big Brother spat is being taken in Britain and in India.
Chancellor Gordon Brown is in India at the moment and, reacting to demonstrations against C4 on the sub-continent, he said: "I want to reassure people at all times that Britain prides itself for its reputation for tolerance and fairness."
Meanwhile, Carphone Warehouse has pulled its sponsorship of Big Brother with immediate effect and The Perfume Shop has withdrawn Jade's range of scent from its shops.
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