Representatives of the Filipino community gathered at the Philippine Embassy in London last night to voice their protest over the BBC’s ‘Harry and Paul’ show, which they have called “disgraceful and distasteful”.
Philippine Ambassador, Edgardo Espiritu joined in the condemnation in yesterday’s Guardian, saying that “such portrayal of Filipino women is very malicious and a blatant display of racial prejudice”.
Thousands of people have signed an on-line petition slamming Harry Enfield’s latest comedy sketch show, in which a male character, played by Paul Whitehouse, urges another to “mount” a Filipina maid or domestic worker.
The Philippine Embassy in London has written to the BBC and the Press Complaints Commission about the scene.
A spokesman for the show said it was “in no way” meant to cause offence.
“Harry and Paul is a post-watershed comedy sketch series and as such tackles many situations in a comedic way,” said the spokesman, from production company Tiger Aspect.
“Set in this context, the sketch in question is so far beyond the realms of reality as to be absurd – and in no way is intended to demean or upset any viewer.”
The BBC added that the scene, first broadcast on 26 September, was part of a running joke in which a family from the south of England treats a northern man like a pet dog.
“Our chums up the road wanted to see if they could mate their Filipino maid with our northerner,” said Enfield‘s character as the maid danced provocatively in his garden.
After the performance failed to have the desired effect, Enfield shouted: “Come on, Clyde, mount her.”
In the Philippines, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, summoned British Ambassador Peter Beckingham to discuss the broadcast.
The British Embassy in Manila later issued a statement saying the BBC had editorial independence and the views expressed and portrayed by the network were “completely independent” from the government.
The petition, organised by the Philippine Foundation, called for the “re-education” of the BBC. It said:
“This particular sketch is completely disgraceful, distasteful and a great example of gutter humour.”
It accused the BBC and the show of “inciting stereotyped racial discrimination, vulgarity and violation of the maid’s human rights”.
The sketch was “tantamount to racism and the worst sexual abuse and exploitation of the hapless young Filipina domestic worker employee,” it added.
Cynthia Barker, leading Immigration Adviser who has helped thousands of Filipino workers, many of them on Domestic Visas, come to the UK said:
“This is extremely insulting to the Filipino community in the UK who have been tirelessly promoting the skills and work ethics of Filipinos and in particular, domestic workers.
“Domestic workers are so loyal and have a high regard for British employers, and to be portrayed in this way by the BBC is deeply offensive to all Filipinos.”
The story, first brought to our attention by Loline Reed of the Overseas Womens Club, has spread to Filipino communities as far afield as Greece. The Kasapi and DIWATA Philippine Women’s Association have signed the petition and will be writing to the British Ambassador in Athens.
The petition, which has received 1491 signatures, can be found at: