Shilpa emerges the winner of Big Brother
Published 29/01/2007 | 00:00
Shilpa Shetty, the Bollywood star at the heart of an international race row, was last night crowned the winner of Celebrity Big Brother
During her interview with Davina - in the same graceful style she displayed throughout her time in the house - Shilpa refused to condemn her housemates after she was shown footage of some of them making apparently racist comments about her.
Instead, and to loud applause from the audience, she paid tribute to Britain for allowing her to take part in the Channel 4 programme and represent her home country of India.
Shilpa let out a lengthy scream when host Davina McCall announced the vote, saying: "I can't believe it."
She told Davina immediately afterwards: "I don't want to sound cliched but it's truly been quite a rollercoaster... the highs, the lows, and each one has taught me so much."
She initially played down the rows, saying her biggest shock in the house was "to cook".
She looked shocked when Davina told her the fighting had caused a furore.
But then she said: "I kind of had an inkling but I'd love to hear about some news."
She then watched footage from the house, including Jade's diary room entries.
But Shilpa also rejected suggestions that she had been the victim of racist bullying at the hands of Jade Goody.
She said: "Things happen, people make mistakes and we all learn from them.
"But I can say one thing for sure. Jade didn't mean to be racist.
"She isn't a racist. I really don't want to leave England putting anyone in trouble.
"This country has given me so much.
"I just want to thank all of Great Britain for giving me this fantastic opportunity to make my country proud."
When she was asked what it would take for US television star Dirk Benedict to win her over, Shilpa replied: "He would need to be at least 38 years younger and start eating chicken curry."
Davina asked her finally to sum up her experience in three words, to which she replied: "Incredible, overwhelming and..." and then following an interjection from the audience, added: "chicken curry rules."
Earlier, viewers watched as she broke down into tears after Davina announced that she had beaten Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine with 63 percent of the public vote.
Bookies had the Indian actress at a 1/6 odds-on favourite to win.
Jermaine (52) became the 10th person to be evicted from the Big Brother house after 26 days on the controversial reality programme.
At an interview immediately after his eviction, the former member of the Jackson Five told Davina of the race row: "I happen to like Jade.
"She is who she is. But Shilpa is from another culture and they did not fit."
Last night's programme was the finale to the latest and most controversial Celebrity Big Brother series, which sparked an international incident.
Both Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown were forced to comment on racism in Britain after comments by contestant Jade Goody sparked outrage across Britain and India.