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An End To Celebrity Big Brother Racism Controversy?

25th May 2007 Print
Channel 4 has released a transcript of previously un-aired material relating to the racism storm surrounding Celebrity Big Brother 5. The transcript, provided to Ofcom, reveals how Jo O’Meara, Jade Goody and Jack Tweed instigated a racist rhyming game in reference to housemate Shilpa Shetty.

Channel 4 has now accepted Ofcom’s adjudication of viewer complaints about the fifth series of Celebrity Big Brother, which concludes that the series breached the regulator’s broadcasting code on four separate occasions.

Channel 4 has today published the findings of a review commissioned by the channel’s board with a view to understanding what lessons could be learned from the reaction to the programme.

Chief Executive, Andy Duncan, said: “We accept Ofcom’s judgement that on the occasions in question we did not ensure that Big Brother intervened with the necessary promptness or strength. We would like to say sorry once again for the offence caused to viewers as a result.

“Ofcom did not rule this material should not have been broadcast, but that we should have done more to contextualise it by challenging and reprimanding the offending housemates. We believe the initiatives we have announced will help prevent a repeat of the public offence caused by the programme.”

Ofcom’s adjudication refers to untransmitted material supplied by Channel 4 to the regulator – this footage, from a short period in the house late at night on Tuesday 16th January 2007, was not broadcast and therefore could not be in breach of Ofcom’s code.

Nevertheless, the footage was cited by Ofcom as evidence of compliance failings on Channel 4’s behalf because its existence was not brought to the channel’s attention by the production team at Endemol until several days after it had occurred. The full untransmitted exchanges from that evening were only uncovered by Channel 4’s own investigations after the series had ended.

Andy Duncan added: “It’s a matter of regret that we and senior managers at Endemol weren’t aware of these conversations immediately they occurred – as soon as we were made aware of them we ensured that the relevant housemates were reprimanded. While Ofcom’s investigation was on-going it was not appropriate to publish this material, but we are publishing a transcript today to end speculation about these conversations.”

Partial transcript of the untransmitted material:

Tuesday 16th January 2007

Big Brother: This is Big Brother. Could Danielle come to the diary room?
Jade: 24 hours later?
Jo: Yeah, that you got told off.
Danielle: I can’t even remember saying anything.
Jade: I think I know. I don’t think it’s anything naughty like that. I think that… maybe Danielle used the ‘P’ word.
Jo: Oh, really?
Jade: Maybe.
Cleo: I don’t even know what ‘P’ word means. Don’t tell me, though.
Jo: Oh, you’re kidding. That’s bad.
Jade: No, I can imagine her saying that under her breath.
Jo: Oh, that’s not good.
Jade: Maybe she didn’t. Maybe I’m just thinking it.
Jo: Oh, that’s naughty, naughty, naughty that is.


Cleo: I’m trying to work out what the ‘P’ word is.
Jade: Did you use the ‘P’ word?
Danielle: What’s the ‘P’ word?
Jack: It rhymes with ‘tacky’.
Jo: Keep it nice and discreet there Jack.
Danielle: I don’t know.
Jade: When the argument was going on, did you use the ‘P’ word that rhymes with ‘tacky’?
Danielle: No.
Jade: That’s what I thought. I thought, I can imagine her saying that under her breath or something.
Danielle: I don’t use them words.
Jo: Good.
Jade: That’s a good thing. I can’t imagine her going, ‘Oh, fuck off you…’

Later still…

Jo: There once was a house that was happy.
Jade: I’ve got a great one, but I’m not allowed to say it.
Danielle: Why? Why? I want to know.
Cleo: She can’t if she can’t say it.
Jo: There once was a house that was happy, ‘mi ni mi ni mi ni mi ni’ and then there entered…
Cleo: You’re all going to go to Big Brother prison.
Danielle: How do you know what –
Cleo: And you’re going to need me –
Jo: But it ends with a nappy. What’s wrong with you people?
Jack: But if you say, ‘Along came some people who were tacky’.
Jade: There once was a house that was happy, until…
Jack: They made it really tacky.
Jade: Until there entered a… Until there entered a…
Jo: Strappy… Strap-on.
Jack: Strap-on
Jade: No, no, no, there once was a house that was happy…
Jo: Until someone got yappy.
Jade: Yes. There once was a house that was happy, until someone got yappy.

Wednesday 17th January 2007

Jo: …claim to fame was your argument with her.
Jade: Yeah, with her.
Jo: Because of the argument they had. She said, ‘You know what, Jade, this is going to be your claim to fame’.
Jade: Because she’s a god.
Danielle: Is that what she said?
Jo: Yeah, she did.
Jade: ‘This is going to be your claim to fame’.
Jo: ‘This is going to be your claim to fame’.
Jade: [Inaudible] I don’t know her surname. Shilpa Pashwa fucking whoever you are, Shilpa Poppadom, I fucking… Oooh.
Jack: Stop it.
Jo: Calm down. It’s finished.
Jade: I am fuming and I know that it’s not going to lie, because I know, when I look at her tomorrow, I’m going to be feeling sick. I cannot stay… I cannot stay in this house and I will never walk –
Jo: There was a young girl from Bombay…
Jade: No, let’s not do that. I will not walk, because I’ve never let it get to me, but I tell you what, if I go, that will probably be the best thing for me – a bloody godsend – because I’ll end up smashing her head against… No, I won’t, because I’m not violent.


Jade: I’m common and I need… I need to go and get elocution lessons because I’m common? How dare she turn her nose up at me? I’m not one of her pissing servants. She’s in a house with nine other people, which are normal people. Jermaine Jackson is a fucking legend – you don’t hear him talking down to people. You don’t hear him turning his nose up to people.
Jo: You don’t really get much bigger than Jackson.
Jade: No, you don’t. You don’t hear him say –
Jo: And he’s the quietest, nicest, most genuine person.
Cleo: Yeah, I love him.
Jo: Genuinely, a genuine person who’s lovely.
Cleo: He is genuine.
Jo: And I’ve got to be honest, I have witnessed things myself with sniggering and whispering and talking –
Jade: Jack did. Jack was in there the other day, in that kitchen, it was just him and Jermaine –
Jo: She done it about me with Dirk over the whisky.
Jade: Shilpa walked into the kitchen, looked at Jack, whispered to Jermaine and laughed. Jack said to me, ‘Oh, my God’. I was just this close to saying something to Shilpa.

Saturday 20th January 2007 – Diary Room With Jo O’Meara

Big Brother: Jo, please could you switch off your microphone and take the battery out for Big Brother please? You should still know you’re being recorded.
Jo: Okay. Am I in trouble? There you go.
Big Brother: Thanks, Jo. Jo, Big Brother would like to make it clear that what we’re about to talk about is a matter that Big Brother has decided to raise with you. Just to be clear, this has not come from any of the other housemates. Do you understand?
Jo: Right. I think so.
Big Brother: To clarify, Big Brother has decided to raise this matter with you.
Jo: Okay.
Big Brother: Jo, it has only now come to Big Brother’s attention that you have made remarks that Big Brother considers to be racially offensive.
Jo: Oh, you’re kidding. Like what?
Big Brother: On Tuesday night, which was day 14 in the Big Brother house, you and other housemates were playing a game where you were making up limericks about Shilpa.
Jo: Yeah.
Big Brother: As part of this game, you used rhyming slang to replace what other housemates called ‘the “P” word’. The rhyming slangs you used were the words
Jo: I never said the ‘P’ word.
Big Brother: The rhyming slang you used were the words ‘nappy’, ‘happy’ and ‘strappy’, amongst others.
Jo: That depends on how you take it. I’m not a racist person at all, ever, and I never, ever have been. I know that.
Big Brother: Jo, it’s clear to Big Brother that, in this conversation, this game, that these rhyming words were references to the racial insult ‘Paki’.
Jo: Right, okay.
Big Brother: Do you understand that this is considered racially offensive language?
Jo: Yes, I do. I didn’t… really didn’t mean it in that way, though.
Big Brother: Big Brother would like to give you some time to respond.
Jo: I don’t know how to respond to that, to be honest. I don’t consider myself to be racist at all, against anybody or any religion or… and, like, if Jermaine is praying or Shilpa’s praying, I always stay out of the room, I stay out of the way and I let them do what they do, and I ask questions about it and… and I want to know more about their religions and stuff. I don’t see that as a problem at all. I didn’t realise the seriousness of it and I apologise if I offended anybody, but I never, ever meant to.