BBC drops Carol Thatcher for remark

Uses racial slur in reference to a tennis player

LONDON -- The BBC has dropped presenter Carol Thatcher from nightly magazine show "The One Show" after she referred to an unnamed black tennis player as a "golliwog" off air, during the filming of the show.

The daughter of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made the comment in a backstage conversation with fellow presenter Adrian Chiles and comedian Jo Brand in front of other production staff, her spokeswoman has confirmed, but intended the matter to be "a joke."

"She made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot when she was growing up," Thatcher's spokeswoman told the Times newspaper.

"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."

The BBC is understood to have made the decision to sack the presenter after she had refused to give a full apology. It is not known who reported the conversation, but production staff and others were thought to be in earshot. Chiles and Brand are both reported to have been shocked at the conversation.

The decision was made with the sanction of BBC1 controller Jay Hunt and BBC director of Vision Jana Bennett.

"The remark made by Carol Thatcher in 'The One Show' Green Room last Thursday evening caused great offense to those who heard it at the time and also to those members of the production team who heard about it later on," a BBC spokesman said, adding that the complaints had gone to the show's executive producer.

"Carol's job as a roving reporter for 'The One Show' requires her to report on a wide a variety of issues and to meet a diverse range of people throughout the country, many of whom are unlikely to agree that her comment was acceptable even as a joke," the BBC added.