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BBC drops Thatcher in racist remark row

  • Story Highlights
  • Carol Thatcher referred to a tennis player as a "golliwog" backstage
  • Thatcher, 55, described her comment as a "joke"
  • BBC axed her as a contributer from the prime-time television show
  • Thatcher spokesman: "Carol never intended any racist comment"
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The daughter of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has been axed by a BBC television show after she made an offensive "off-air" remark, the corporation has confirmed.

Margaret Thatcher (left) and her daughter Carol Thatcher in   Southampton, England in June 2008

Margaret Thatcher (left) and her daughter Carol Thatcher in Southampton, England in June 2008

According to reports in the British media, Carol Thatcher referred to a tennis player as a "golliwog" back stage during the filming of The One Show last Thursday.

The remark was made about a male tennis player taking part in the Australian Open tournament in Melbourne.

The term is an offensive word for black people used in several countries.

She was immediately challenged about her gaffe but dismissed it as a "joke."

The BBC said it considered "any language of a racist nature wholly unacceptable," before adding that it had hoped Thatcher, 55, would issue an unconditional apology but she had declined to do so.

The remark is thought to have upset a number of people on the show, with one BBC spokesman quoted by The Times newspaper as saying: "We will no longer be working with Carol Thatcher on The One Show."

However, the corporation said on its Web site that she would not be banned from the BBC as a whole.

Thatcher's agent is now demanding an apology from the BBC, the corporation reported Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Thatcher's spokesman told The Times Wednesday that she made the remark in a conversation with the show's presenter Adrian Chiles back stage. "Carol never intended any racist comment," he said.

"She made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot when she was growing up. There's no way, obviously, that she would condone any racist comment -- we would refute that entirely. It would not be in her nature to do anything like that.

"It is disgusting that we've had a leak of private conversations in the green room -- the BBC has more leaks than Thames Water."

The Golliwog first appeared as a character in an 1895 book, "The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls," described by author Florence Kate Upton as "a horrid sight, the blackest gnome."

Based on a black minstrel doll Upton played with as a child, the character inspired early 20th-Century dolls by several manufacturers and was used as the trademark of James Robertson & Sons, a British jam and preserve maker, in the early 1900s.

The term "wog" became a widely used racial slur for dark-skinned people that grew in popularity among some Britons during World War II.

As late as the 1960s, soldiers in Great Britain's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders military regiment wore a brooch of one of the Robertson characters for each Arab they killed, according to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.

The term "golliwog" is used as racial slur in Germany, England, Ireland, Greece and Australia, according to the museum's Web site.

Carol Thatcher, a winner in 2005 of reality television show "I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!," was a regular contributor on the BBC prime-time show.

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