Talking Point: Strictly's racist debacle

06 October 2009

Strictly Come Dancing

Have all those fake tan fumes gone to the Strictly producers' heads, because some of their decisions, surrounding the current series, are hard to fathom, to say the least (firing Arlene, hiring Alesha, the great schedule clash with X-Factor).

Now, the BBC’s controversial decision to stand by Anton Du Beke, whose partner Laila Rouass threatened to quit the show this week, after the dancer called her a ‘Paki’.

To put the racist slur into (still inexcusable) context; the half-Indian, half-Moroccan actress had just got a spray tan, ahead of the live show. But it’s not the first time Anton has made such an insensitive remark – when he was first introduced to Laila he joked, “You’re not a terrorist are you?” What a charmer.

So what now, for Mr. Du Beke, (a fixture on Strictly since the very first series and the bookies' favourite to take over from Brucie, when the doddery host eventually retires)? Will he be ‘evicted’ from the show (i.e. Big Brother, Shilpa Shetty-gate) and stripped of his BBC contract (as they did with Carol Thatcher after she called a black tennis player who appeared on the One Show a ‘Golliwog’). Does a similar fate await Anton?

Umm, no! According to the BBC, they’re “drawing a line under the incident”. So, why is it one rule for one and one for another? “Carol never apologised and Anton has [apologised], so we are not being inconsistent,” said a spokesperson for the show. Laila has also accepted Anton’s apology and the couple will take to the dance floor this weekend, as planned. “'It was a situation which happened that we have moved on from and I accept his apology,” she said, “I'm really enjoying the show and dancing with Anton and hope we can go as far as possible in the competition.” The question is, will Strictly fans be quite as forgiving?  
- Amy Molloy


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