BBC drops Carol Thatcher over slur

LONDON (Reuters) - The BBC has axed Carol Thatcher as a reporter on one of its shows after she referred to a tennis player as a “golliwog” in off-air remarks, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

Margaret Thatcher (R) and her daughter Carol Thatcher watch Andy Roddick of the U.S. play Sweden's Thomas Johansson in their men's semi-final match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London July 2, 2005. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Thatcher, 55, was reported to bosses by fellow presenters and guests for making the comment during the making of “The One Show,” sparking yet another row at the broadcaster.

A BBC spokesman said the comment about the unnamed player was made in front of presenters and celebrity guests after the show was broadcast last Thursday night.

“There was a discussion about the Australian Open in the green room, and when Carol was discussing it she referred to one of the black tennis players as a golliwog,” said a BBC spokesman.

“There was some suggestion this morning that it was (British player) Andy Murray she was referring to. It was not.”

He said Thatcher, daughter of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was challenged directly at the time by one of the guests, comedian Jo Brand, and members of the production staff later complained to the show’s producer.

Carol Thatcher’s agent has said the off-the-cuff remark was made in private, but the BBC said it was made in a public space.

“A green room is not a private space -- it’s where you go when the show is on -- it has members of the public in it, presenters and staff there,” the spokesman said.

“She has said she wouldn’t apologise beyond saying it was a joke and on that basis we felt her position on the show was untenable.”

Thatcher will continue to contribute to other shows in the future and her contract has not been terminated, the BBC said.

The publicly funded broadcaster has been hit by a string of recent scandals, including a high-profile row over the broadcast of offensive comments made by top presenter Jonathan Ross and comedian Russell Brand to “Fawlty Towers” actor Andrew Sachs.

Editing by Steve Addison