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BBC finally says sorry for ‘joke’ on Filipino maid

MANILA, Philippines - The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) has finally apologized for the "offensive" portrayal of a Filipino maid in an episode of the UK comedy series, "Harry and Paul." A statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday said that the Philippine Embassy in the United Kingdom received the letter dated October 19 from BBC Director General Mark Thompson. However, the letter only reached the Philippine post on October 20. "…Please accept my sincere apologies, on behalf of the BBC, for the offence that this programme caused you," wrote Thompson in the letter. The controversial skit aired in the September 26 episode of "Harry and Paul" showed comedian Harry Enfield telling a postman that he is ordering his Filipino maid to mate with his friend Paul Whitehouse. Filipinos from all over the globe, particularly the 200,000 strong Filipino community in the UK, were angered by the show and demanded an apology from the shows creators as well as the British government because of the "racist" content of the show. The "racist" portrayal of Filipino domestic helpers also led to some leaders of the community to put up an online petition protesting the show. The online petition gathered more than 2,000 supporters within three days, the DFA said. The Philippine Ambassador to the UK Edgardo Espiritu sent a letter to the BBC on Oct 3 expressing dismay over the said episode. The embassy had also sent letters of complaint to different British government offices, including the UK regulatory industry, and the mayor of London. A silent vigil was also held simultaneously on 17 October in front of the BBC Office in White City, just outside central London, and Tiger Aspect Productions in Soho in central London. Tiger Aspect Productions Chief Executive Andrew Zane, issued an apology before the members of the Filipino community who joined the Soho vigil. "We're sorry to anyone who was in any way offended by the programme. This certainly was not our intention," said Zane. Last year, a scene in the ABC television hit series "Desperate Housewives" that put into question the credibility of medical education in the Philippines elicited angry remarks from Filipinos, and later on amassed thousands of signatures through an online petition. The show’s creators apologized for the slur and promised to hire Filipino actors and introduce a Filipino character into the show. - GMANews.TV