The Shilpa Shetty race row, 'David's dead' and George Galloway as a cat: Celebrity Big Brother's 9 most controversial moments


The new series of Celebrity Big Brother begins on Thursday, promising explosive rows, ill-advised romances, z-list hissy fits and plenty of controversy.

Here are some of the most contentious moments to hit the show since it first aired 15 years ago.

1. The Shilpa Shetty race row.

Shilpa Shetty winning the show (Yui Mok/PA)
Shilpa Shetty winning the show (Yui Mok/PA)

Probably the most controversial moment in the show's history involved the late Jade Goody, S Club 7 singer Jo O'Meara and former beauty queen Danielle Lloyd directing abuse at Bollywood star Shilpa in 2007.

Complaints from viewers soared to 45,000 over behaviour that included Jade referring to the star as "Shilpa Poppadom", Danielle telling Shilpa, in foul language, that she should go home to India, and an argument over Shilpa cooking a chicken in which offensive comments about Indian cooking were made.

Ofcom ruled against Channel 4 and the channel apologised on air. Shilpa went on to win CBB that year.

2. Denise Welch pulling down Karissa Shannon's trousers.

Denise stripped in the house, and unfortunately stripped others too (Ian West/PA)
Denise stripped in the house, and unfortunately stripped others too (Ian West/PA)

The former Loose Women panellist won her series in 2012, but did not escape controversy.

She jokingly pulled down the pyjama bottoms of Playboy model Karissa, who did not see the funny side and instead threatened to walk out of the show and even sue producers.

Denise, 58, also made headlines with her own nudity as she drunkenly went topless in the hot tub with then 19-year-old Frankie Cocozza.

3. Pete Burns's "gorilla" coat confiscated.

Pete Burns (Channel 4/PA)
Pete Burns in his "gorilla" coat in the house (Channel 4/PA)

Police seized the coat of 2006 contestant Pete after viewers complained about his boasts that it was made of gorilla fur.

The You Spin Me Round singer faced investigation as the coat could have been a breach of endangered animal laws, but it was later confirmed to have originated from colobus monkeys.

Big Brother faced the foul-mouthed wrath of Pete for daring to remove the coat.

4. Jeremy Jackson's removal.

Jeremy Jackson (Ian West/PA)
Jeremy Jackson was evicted from the house for assaulting Chloe (Ian West/PA)

The former Baywatch star was sensationally thrown out of CBB in January last year for pulling open the dressing gown of glamour model Chloe Goodman while he was drunk.

A concerned Chloe had followed him to the toilets where he went to be sick, but emerged in tears shortly afterwards.

He was given a police caution for common assault on release.

Just days later, comedian Ken Morley was also ejected over repeated sexist and racist comments.

5. David Gest confusion.

Tiffany is told by Angie that David is dead (Channel 5/screenshot)
Tiffany is told by Angie that David is dead (Channel 5/screenshot)

More than 200 people complained earlier this year after Channel 5 aired scenes where Tiffany Pollard mistakenly thought fellow contestant David Gest had died.

The reality star became hysterical when Angie Bowie confided in her that "David's dead" - referring to the passing of her former husband David Bowie from cancer outside the house - but Gest's unfortunate timing for a nap led to a mix-up.

David sadly died three months later, and Tiffany was forced to pull "David is dead" slogan T-shirts from her website.

6. George Galloway's cat impression.

George Galloway and Rula Lenska (Channel 4/PA)
George Galloway and Rula Lenska (Channel 4/PA)

The politician was responsible for one of the most uncomfortable moments to watch on CBB when he imitated a cat back in 2006.

The then Respect MP crawled on all fours, purred and pretended to lick cream from the hands of actress Rula Lenska as part of a task, while she stroked his head.

The bizarre act led Labour opponent Hilary Armstrong to brand the politician a "laughing stock".

7. Tila Tequila removed for anti-Semitic remarks.

Tila Tequila was thrown out after only one night in the house (Ian West/PA)
Tila Tequila was thrown out after only one night in the house (Ian West/PA)

The Playboy model, real name Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen, was removed from the house after just one night in August last year.

It emerged she was a Nazi sympathiser and had posted images on her Facebook page in 2013 wearing a swastika and SS cap superimposed in front of Auschwitz.

A Channel 5 spokesman said: "Unfortunately, Channel 5 and Endemol did not know about the views and attitudes Tila had expressed in social media postings prior to her involvement in Celebrity Big Brother.

"The views Tila had expressed, and permitted to remain uncorrected, are totally unacceptable and, accordingly, her continued involvement in the programme was untenable."

8. Leo Sayer's underpants break-out.

Seventies pop star Leo broke out the house (Channel 4/PA)
Seventies pop star Leo broke out of the house (Channel 4/PA)

In the same year as Shilpa's race row, singer Leo led an expletive-heavy break-out from the CBB house after smashing open a fire door with a broom.

The catalyst for his exit was Big Brother refusing to provide him with clean underwear.

It turns out the temper tantrum was unnecessary because Sayer had apparently overlooked clean underpants which were still in his suitcase.

9. Perez Hilton's threats to Calum Best.

Perez Hilton was criticised for his language towards Calum (Ian West/PA)
Perez Hilton was criticised for his language towards Calum (Ian West/PA)

The American celebrity blogger made a name for himself in the UK with his appearance in January 2015.

In addition to numerous rows with controversial columnist Katie Hopkins, it was a nasty dispute with George Best's son Calum that left viewers appalled.

Outspoken Perez - real name Mario Lavandeira - received a warning from Big Brother following a shocking confrontation in which he used language pertaining to sexual assault.

In an argument between the pair, Perez graphically told Calum he would "shove my huge d*** up your a**".