No OffenceOctober 6, 2009
Anton Du Beke, professional Ballroom dancer, made his appearance on the inaugural series of Strictly Come Dancing and quickly became popular. Good looking, shiny and inoffensive to man and horse, that Cheshire Cat smile with a body attached started fronting shows like Hole In The Wall and was being groomed to be the next Brucie on Strictly, if reports were to be believed. Nothing could’ve stopped him – except his mouth, which did so in spectacular style recently.
He’s had to apologise for a racist remark he made to his dancing partner. On catching sight of Laila Rouass who had just returned from getting a fake tan, he blurted out “Oh my God, you look like a Paki.” Given that her mother is Indian and her father is Moroccan, she was less than impressed with that statement. But it’s not the first time he insulted this poor woman. He’s reported to have jokingly asked her if she was a terrorist when they met for the first time. Classy, Du Beke. Classy. It was the second comment that did for him though and he went for damage limitation. The whole apology you can find on various online newspapers but the part of the apology I’m interested in is this: “I must say immediately and categorically that I am not a racist and that I do not use racist language.” The jury’s out on whether he’s a racist, but his protestation that he doesn’t use racist language doesn’t wash; he just did in this case.
I’ve been listening to the radio and reading comments on the net and it’s been interesting to listen/read from the people who cannot see what the fuss is about. After all, they say, we’ve been called Brits, Limeys and Poms and we’re not bothered. ‘Paki’ is short for Pakistani. What’s the problem? Well, let me take you through the portal to the 70s and 80s. At that time it was the weapon of choice for racists up and down the land. It would usually be preceded by the words “You fucking,” with perhaps a stone thrown, some spitting, or a kicking for good measure. Needless to say, that word does not have good associations to this day and it’s still used by the terminally thick with low esteem. I mean, if you have some respect for yourself, you would have no need to go down that road. You have to ask yourself why anyone would use it in this age if they don’t intend to offend. Have a think about that one, Du Beke.
Now this will either die down in a couple of days, as Laila has accepted his apology and that should be the end of it, or it will got on for weeks following the template set by the Ross/Brand debacle with only a resignation to satiate the baying crowd. At the very least, I don’t think he’ll be allowed to return to Strictly if it gets another season after surviving a thrashing by the X Factor. He may have a marginally better ending than Carol Thatcher who quite rightly got the heave-ho when she called a Tennis player she saw on TV a Golliwog in the green room of BBC’s the One Show and didn’t apologise for it.
Johnny of Brixton, perhaps the most caustic of Vanessa Feltz’s lovely listeners on her morning radio show on BBC Radio London gave his opinion on this affair in his usual direct style “Anton Du Beke, you’ve had your 15 minutes – Bye!”
I could not have put it better myself.