Big Brother: NRI beauty ridiculed for eating with hands
An Indian-origin model and contestant on the Big Brother reality show has been facing a "tirade of insults", including for her preference to eat food with her hands, prompting several complaints and an investigation by regulator Ofcom.
In scenes reminiscent of the racist taunts faced by actor Shilpa Shetty in Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, contestant Deana Uppal - currently Miss India UK - has been facing bullying on the show telecast on Channel 5.
Following an uproar over comments by contestant Jade Goody against Shilpa Shetty, Ofcom had ruled that Channel 4 had breached its code of conduct.
The issue snowballed into a major row, with Indian and UK governments intervening.
The latest incident relates to Birmingham-based Uppal eating food with her hands, a practice common with people with origins in the Indian sub-continent.
Fellow contestant Scott Mason and his friends mocked Uppal by saying that she ate with her hands because she is Indian.
The show reprimanded the housemates, saying the comments could be interpreted as racial stereotyping and bullying.
Big Brother told Scott in the diary room: "Big Brother believes that your use of language could be seen as stereotyping and therefore potentially offensive. If you use this type of language again we may have to consider removing you from the house."
Scott replied: "I'm sorry for getting carried away."
Earlier this month, a spokeswoman for Ofcom confirmed to PTI that it had launched an investigation after receiving over 1,200 complaints about alleged racist abuse against contestants on Big Brother.
Conon McIntyre, a contestant on the show, was warned about his aggressive behaviour, particularly towards Uppal.
He used a string of expletives during the 25 June episode, sparking a wave of complaints from viewers.
Uppal is the current Miss India UK and has done modelling assignments in the UK and India.
She has apparently infuriated housemates with her alleged inability to wash up or cook, because she is used to her mother doing everything for her and because she employs servants in India.
The Ofcom spokeswoman said that the incident in which housemate McIntyre "launched a tirade of insults against Deana Uppal", prompted 1,108 complaints.
"Many viewers thought it amounted to bullying," she said.
McIntyre's remarks prompted demands from women charity organisations for his removal from the Big Brother house, saying that Uppal should not have to live with such an intimidating presence.
A Channel 5 spokesman said: "Channel 5 is committed to complying with Ofcom's broadcasting code and will help to facilitate a speedy investigation into this particular episode of Big Brother."