Sir David Jason forced to say sorry after making a 'racist' joke on live radio

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Del Boy might have got away with it simply by saying he had been a bit of a plonker.

Sir David Jason, however, found himself with a little more explaining to do after making a joke about Pakistanis on a live radio show.

Today the award-winning actor was accused of making 'inappropriate remarks' and being 'out of touch with reality' after making the blunder on Christian O'Connnell's Breakfast Show.

The 69-year-old star, who might be expected to be a bit less gaffe-prone than his Only Fools and Horses alter ego, was on the 'Who's Calling Christian' feature - where celebrities ring Absolute Radio with a chance to win £20,000 for charity. 

His gaffe came when he was asked to leave a question for the next guest.

The Touch of Frost star replied: 'What do you call a Pakistani cloakroom attendant?'

Following a brief pause, he then delivered the punch line: 'Me hat, me coat.'

There was a stunned silence from presenter Christian O'Connell and Jason hastily added a genuine question about Ronnie Barker's early career.

No apology was given on air following the gaffe at 8am on Tuesday and the joke was swiftly edited out of the show's podcast posted on the radio's internet site.

Tonight the joke was greeted with dismay by director of media watchdog Mediawatch John Beyer, who said there was no place for such insensitive humour on air.

He said: 'It was an inappropriate comment, although I do not think it was meant in an offensive way. People are increasingly concerned about language on radio and television.

'Everyone is much more sensitive about racialist terms or terms that show carelessness or disrespect.

'People in the media need to learn the lesson that these kind of jokes are not appreciated any more.'

Mohammed Shafiq, of Muslim charity the Ramadhan Foundation, branded the comments inappropriate and out of touch with reality.

Mr Shafiq said: 'These are inappropriate remarks about a stereotype that may have held a little water in the 50's and 60's but is not true to today.

'David Jason needs to reflect on this and learn about the wealth of jobs held by Muslims.

'As a well known and well-loved actor he needs to be careful about what he says. He should've known better.'

Meanwhile stunned listener Oliver Rees, 25, of Stoke Newington, London, said he was shocked when he heard the blunder broadcast live.

Hair dresser Oliver said: 'We've all grown up with David Jason on TV. He's part of everyone's family. I never thought he would say something racist.

'It was so disappointing to hear him come out with such a tasteless and inappropriate comment.

'He should apologise for being such a plonker. Even Rodney would be ashamed.'

As for Jason, one of Britain's best-loved actors, a spokeswoman said he had been taken aback to learn that he had caused offence and was 'sorry' to have upset anyone.

'As far as he's concerned he made a joke which he thought was quite funny and he did not perceive it as a racist anymore than if it had been about an English person or a Scottish person.

'He's distressed that it upset people and is really sorry if it did.'

A spokeswoman for Absolute Radio said there had been no complaints to the station from listeners.

She said O'Connell tried to distance himself from the joke on air by saying 'no more jokes like that' after Jason's jibe.

Last night Britain's first Muslim minister Shahid Malik, who is of Pakistani origin said he was surprised anybody had found the joke racist.

'It really is a storm in a tea cup,' he said. 'Firstly it's not funny, secondly it's unfortunate because Mahatma Gandhi was Indian, and I don't perceive it as racist.

'I'm a big fan of David Jason. The only thing is he's let me down because it's not very funny.'

 A radio spokesman said: 'The comments made by David Jason were unacceptable and Christian O’Connell distanced himself from them live on-air by swiftly saying, “no more jokes like that”. 

'To minimise any offence amongst our listeners we also edited the comments from the Breakfast Show podcast.  

'We consider the views of our listeners to be very important and have received no complaints about these comments.'  continues here

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