FLAMIN' DISASTER; ANGER IN BRITAIN AND INDIA OVER RACE ROW ON TELLY REALITY SHOW Effigies of BB Bosses Are Burned in the Streets
Byline: By James Lyons
BIG Brother's racism row yesterday exploded into a major international incident.
India is up in arms over the abuse heaped on Bollywood beauty Shilpa Shetty - with fans even burning effigies of Big Brother producers in the street.
Yesterday, as official complaints about the Channel 4 show topped 20,000, Prime Minister Tony Blair had to answer questions about the race row in the Commons.
And Gordon Brown flew into the storm as he arrived in India for trade talks. The Chancellor slammed BB bullies Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara for shaming Britain.
Diplomats have warned the show is now causing "serious damage" to foreign relations.
But producers insisted there had been "no overt racial abuse or racist behaviour directed against Shilpa Shetty within the Big Brother house".
Instead, they described the rows as "a cultural and class clash".
Millionaire former BB contestant Goody, Ex-Miss Great Britain Lloyd and former S Club 7 star O'Meara have repeatedly criticised the Indian star and made fun of her accent.
On Monday night's episode, O'Meara suggested Indians were thin because they were always ill as a result of undercooking their food.
The trio also complained that Shetty had touched other housemates' food with her hands.
Lloyd, who is dating footballer Teddy Sheringham, said: "You don't know where those hands have been."
On Tuesday, after a row over Oxo cubes, mouthy Jade screamed at Shilpa: "You're not a f***ing princess in here Shilpa, you're just another housemate. You're normal. Learn to live with that."
Jade's mum Jackiey, now evicted, was earlier accused of racism by constantly referring to Shilpa as "the Indian".
Police yesterday revealed two email threats against housemates had been sent to Channel 4 but would not say who they related to.
In Mumbai last night, Shilpa's mother, Sunada Shetty, said she was "praying" for her daughter to be evicted from the house on Friday, adding: "To see her cry on TV while a bunch of people abuse her is a very painful thing for a parent."
Indian politicians and newspapers are seething over the treatment of their major film star.
And Shilpa's fans are outraged. A protest in the eastern Indian city of Patna yesterday saw an effigy of a "Big Brother producer" burned in the street.
India's foreign minister Anand Sharma warned: "We have been appraised of the matter. We are looking into all the aspects and will take appropriate action as required."
Chancellor Brown stepped into the row as soon as he arrived in Bangalore for three days of talks. The issue was raised by an Indian trade minister.
The Chancellor is expected to express formal regret when he meets PM Manmohan Singh today.
He is due to visit Bollywood studios in Mumbai later this week.
Brown said last night: "I understand that in the UK there have already been 10,000 complaints from viewers about these remarks which people rightly see as offensive.
"I want Britain to be seen as a country of fairness and tolerance and anything that detracts from that, I condemn. …