BBC staffer apologises over chimpanzee remark

March 13th, 2009 - 2:58 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 13 (IANS) BBC news presenter Chris Eakin has apologised after being criticised for jokingly asking viewers if they saw a likeness between his Sri Lanka born colleague George Alagiah and a chimpanzee.
Eakin was discussing a chimpanzee at a Swedish zoo that collects stones to hurl at visitors, and asked: “Can you see any likeness?”

He then handed the mike to 53-year-old Alagiah, who is of Tamil descent. Alagiah looked surprised but laughed off the joke, reports.

TUC race equality officer Wilf Sullivan said: “Even if it was a light-hearted piece, this is supposed to be a serious news programme. If he was doing it in a way to refer to George, then it would be a bit out of order.”

Eakin said: “This was a light-hearted comment with absolutely no other intended overtones. I know George did not interpret it as anything other than that. George and I are old friends… I regret if I have unintentionally caused any offence.”

Alagiah said: “Chris has spoken to me privately and I have accepted his apology. He fell into one of those pitfalls of live TV - the banter that goes horribly wrong. I think it was unfortunate and inappropriate.”

A BBC spokesman said: “It was an inappropriate remark that shouldn’t have been made. We have accepted the explanation given by Chris and he has reassured us that it will not happen again.”

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