Chancellor Gordon Brown stepped into the row over Celebrity Big Brother today, describing alleged racist comments made on the programme as “offensive”.

Mr Brown, on a visit to India, told local reporters that people were right to regard the alleged racist comments made on the show as offensive.

He added that he condemned anything which harmed Britain’s reputation as a tolerant land.

He said: “I understand that in the UK there have already been 10,000 complaints from viewers about these remarks, which people see, rightly, as offensive.

“I want Britain to be seen as a country of fairness and tolerance. Anything detracting from this I condemn.”

An aide said the Chancellor had not seen the programmes in which the remarks were made, though he has watched Big Brother in the past.

Mr Brown’s remarks add to pressure on Channel 4 bosses to halt alleged racist behaviour on the show towards Shilpa Shetty, the Bollywood film star.

Media watchdog Ofcom has reported a record 14,500 complaints against the programme, with a further 2,000 contacting Channel 4 to voice their dismay.

The Indian government has also indicated that it plans to raise the issue with Britain after the treatment of the Bollywood star featured in newspapers and television news in the country.

The scenes from the programme have sparked protests in India, with demonstrators filmed burning effigies of “Big Brother organisers” in the street.