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BBC Faces Backlash As 'Malicious' Radio Caller Repeatedly Uses N-Word

Nadine White
·News reporter, HuffPost UK
·3-min read
(Photo: ilbusca via Getty Images)
(Photo: ilbusca via Getty Images)

The BBC has faced criticism for failing to act quickly when a ‘malicious’ caller repeatedly used the N-word during a live radio show.

The incident took place on BBC Radio London’s Sunny and Shay show – presented by husband and wife duo Mandeep ‘Sunny’ and Gursharonjit ‘Shay’ Grewal – on Saturday evening.

During a conversation about board games in light of National Monopoly Day in the US on Friday, Sunny asked the caller what game they play.

“In my country we play a game where you are a white nationalist and kill all the N–s and gays,” the caller said.

″I want to say that I f–ing hate N–s,” they added before the call was terminated.

The bizarre exchange lasted over two minutes and the person used the racial slur around ten times speaking with a thick Italian accent, claiming to be from Greece.

After the conversation ended, Sunny said: “I’m sorry. (...) I don’t understand what he was going or where he was going with that conversation but he’s obviously someone who doesn’t understand the rules of how you come to engage here on the radio.”

However, upset listeners have criticised the corporation for allowing the exchange to air for so long after the caller first used the racial slur.

Some have also taken issue with the BBC for a generally inadequate response to the matter – from the host’s apology to lack of public statement from the broadcaster.

One listener remarked: “From the minute the caller came on it was pretty obvious he was a prank. The accent was appalling and the producer and presenter should have been on the ball ready to get him off air. The response afterwards was lame.”

Another said: “It’s utterly bonkers that he wasn’t cut off immediately”.

(Photo: IR_Stone via Getty Images)
(Photo: IR_Stone via Getty Images)

A BBC spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “An on-air apology was made and it has been removed from BBC Sounds.

“This was one of several malicious calls made to our local stations in recent days. We have now further strengthened our protocols around phone-ins and referred the matter to the police.”

This comes after the BBC apologised for a news report which contained the N word in August.

More than 19,000 people complained to the BBC over the broadcast, which saw social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin repeat the racial slur allegedly used in a suspected racially-motivated attack in Bristol.

After the broadcaster initially defended the report, former director-general Tony Hall said in a statement that the BBC “now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that”.

The InfluencHers, a group of over 100 professional British women of African and Caribbean origin, called for a boycott of the BBC in response to its use of the slur.

BBC Radio 1xtra presenter Sideman quit the corporation over the broadcast.

Announcing the move on social media, he said: “This is an error in judgment where I can’t just smile with you through the process and act like everything is OK.

“I’m happy working with organisations until we all get it right, but this feels like more than getting it wrong.”

The BBC also issued an apology for Lucy Worsley’s use of a racial slur in a recent documentary about the American Civil War.

American History’s Biggest Fibs was first aired on television last year but was recently repeated on BBC Two where Worsley said the N-word while quoting John Wilkes Booth.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.