Marina Hyde on “Strictly Come Dancing” racism.

// 10 October 2009

Just wanted to quickly highlight this excellent Comment is Free piece by Marina Hyde on the racism row that has erupted surrounding the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. One of the dancers, Anton Du Beke, told his partner she looked like a ‘paki’ following a spray tan. Du Beke has issued an apology, but the ever-embarrassing presenter Bruce Forsyth responded with the line: ‘we used to have a sense of humour about this’. Hyde says:

The thing that Brucie and his ilk so stubbornly fail to understand is that the cultural memories of centuries of abuse do not evaporate quickly. They are what Barack Obama called the “legacy of discrimination” – an inheritance which becomes for so many a legacy of defeat.

The reactions of the “lighten up” brigade come down to that lazy inability to see that just because a word is spoken — or a sketch performed — in non-malicious jest, it can nonetheless cause deep hurt and offence. Perhaps in the mouth of Anton Du Beke, “Paki” is merely half the word Pakistan, as it is to many who have stormed the talkboards. But in the ear of others, “Paki” is something quite different. It is the word that once rained down in playgrounds or football terraces or streets, and frequently still does in our far-from-civilised society. The stubborn refusal to admit to those historic associations is a tacit perpetuation of them. This is how, long after legislation has addressed the wrongs of the past, one generation still manages to pass the discrimination furtively on to the next.

Comments From You

Josie // Posted 10 October 2009 at 11:31 pm

Well done for drawing attention to this Laura. It’s a very good article by Marina Hyde. I’m a huge Strictly fan and have long thought that Anton was one of the most talented professional dancers but judging on what has been reported in the last week or so, he also seems like an enormous tosser. How anyone could think that the word ‘Paki’ is ever appropriate/funny is beyond me – and ‘the nation’s darling’ Brucie has really shown his true colours with his arrogant, smug comments this week. Utterly revolting. This seems to me like white male privilege at its most blaitant. Having said that, I do agree with Anton’s dancing partner Laila, and many others, that the matter should now be dropped, in view of the fact that Anton has apologised to her personally and publicly. Would love to hear other POVs however ……

sianmarie // Posted 11 October 2009 at 1:18 pm

marina hyde is a goddess!

Sabre // Posted 11 October 2009 at 8:25 pm

So Anton Du Beke apologised to Laila Rouass. Aside from using a word understood by many as racist, it makes it seem like the insult was that she might have actually looked like a Pakistani and what a horrible thing that would be, right?

Maybe it’s just me being paranoid but that subtlety seems to have escaped unnoticed. The focus is all on the use of the word “Paki” rather than the meaning of the insult behind it. What’s wrong with looking Pakistani? I’m Pakistani FFS!

Kath // Posted 11 October 2009 at 9:51 pm


I assume he apologised for using “you look like a ‘paki'” as an insult, as opposed to apologising for implying she looked pakistani. At least I hope he did.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 12 October 2009 at 12:08 am

Spot-on Sabre – what indeed is wrong with looking like a Pakistani? Xenophobic hatred as well as racial contempt in other words.

FeminaErecta // Posted 12 October 2009 at 4:56 pm

What does a Pakistani look like?

Sabre // Posted 12 October 2009 at 10:21 pm

Like bad fake tan apparently


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