Bruce Forsyth has said the nation should get a “sense of humour” about the 'Strictly Come Dancing' race row.
The veteran TV host, 81, called for people to accept the apology offered by Anton du Beke for telling celebrity dance partner Laila Rouass that she looked like a “paki”, and move on.
Strictly presenter Forsyth said that in days gone by the “slip-up” would have been treated in a more light-hearted way.
Forsyth told radio station TalkSport: “We used to have a sense of humour about this. You go back 25, 30, 40 years and there has always been a bit of humour about the whole thing.
“At one time the Americans used to call us ’limeys’ which doesn’t sound very nice, but we used to laugh about it. Everybody has a nickname. And Anton is such a sweet guy, it’s such a terrible shame.”
The BBC has resisted pressure to sack Du Beke from the hit series following the off-air comment he made to Rouass during rehearsals.
He has since apologised “unreservedly” for his behaviour towards his dancing partner, who has Indian ancestry.
Rouass has accepted Du Beke’s apology for the comment and said he did not deserve to be sacked.
Speaking to Adrian Durham and Darren Gough on Bowtime, Forsyth was asked if Du Beke’s apology and Rousass’s acceptance of it should be the end of the matter.
“Of course it should,” said Forsyth yesterday.
Praising Du Beke, Forsyth said: “He’s a lovely, sensitive guy. OK, he can be a bit mouthy and can say quick things off-the-cuff like I do. If someone says something to me then I’m straight back.
“Quick reflex of the tongue is what we’ve got. But when you’re like that you can slip up every now and again. You can say something that you don’t mean.
“But I’m sure there was nothing vindictive about what he said and it (Du Beke’s apology) should be accepted and the page should be closed on it. It’s a damn shame and I feel for him and Laila, she’s a lovely girl.”
The BBC has faced claims of double standards over the incident, which arose when former Footballer’s Wives star Rouass turned up to rehearsals after having a spray tan.
Carol Thatcher was axed from her role on BBC1’s 'The One Show' after she used an offensive term during a chat in the programme’s green room.
The corporation drew a distinction between the two incidents, saying that Du Beke offered an unreserved apology, whereas Thatcher apologised but continued to maintain her comment was a joke.