Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Channel in Big Brother bullying row

Big Brother housemate Conor McIntyre is at the centre of a bullying row
Big Brother housemate Conor McIntyre is at the centre of a bullying row

A women's group has condemned Channel 5 and Big Brother bosses over a "bullying" row on the programme which has sparked almost 1,000 complaints.

Viewers saw housemate Conor McIntyre in a heated row with fellow contestant Deana Uppal earlier this week.

The Northern Irish personal trainer lost his temper with the 23-year-old beauty queen after she failed a task, launching a verbal attack on her during which he threatened to punch her. He was later reprimanded.

TV watchdog Ofcom has received nearly 1,000 complaints about the scenes, aired on Monday, which left Uppal in tears and complaining she felt "bullied".

And a pressure group has called for McIntyre to be removed from the house.

Holly Dustin, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: "It is highly irresponsible of Channel 5 and the makers of Big Brother not to have immediately removed Conor McIntyre from the house, but to leave a woman in a confined space with someone who has made threats of physical and sexual violence against her.

"Merely giving McIntyre a ticking off in the diary room sends a very harmful message to young people that abusive behaviour towards women is entertainment and not very serious. We look forward to hearing Ofcom's response to the high number of complaints they have received."

McIntyre lost his temper with Uppal for failing the "Confusing Cuisine" task set by Big Brother. She chose a cake to eat, but was left gagging when she bit into it and found it was made of ham and hot sauce.

Channel 5 said the 24-year-old, from Londonderry, had been warned about his behaviour but producers were satisfied he should continue in the show.

The station said in a statement: "Housemates are closely monitored at all times in the Big Brother house and following Conor's reaction to Deana failing the food-based task he was immediately called into the diary room, warned and reprimanded in accordance with the programme's procedures. He has fully acknowledged that this was unacceptable. We felt it was important to show that Conor's behaviour was not condoned by Big Brother or any of the housemates, and that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated in the house."

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