Bruce Forsyth has said that Britain should ‘get a sense of humour’ about the Strictly Come Dancing race row involving Anton du Beke and Laila Rouass.

There have been calls for the professional dancer to be booted off the show for saying his partner looked like a ‘Paki’ after she had a spray tan.

The 81-year-old presenter told TalkSport: “We used to have a sense of humour about this – you go back 25, 30, 40 years and there has always been a bit of humour about the whole thing.

“At one time the Americans used to call us ‘limeys’ which doesn’t sound very nice, but we used to laugh about it. Everybody has a nickname.”

Anton has since apologised ‘unreservedly’ and Laila has accepted it saying she does not believe he should be sacked.

Bruce said Anton was a ‘lovely, sensitive guy’, adding: “OK, he can be a bit mouthy and can say quick things off-the-cuff like I do. If someone says something to me then I’m straight back. Quick reflex of the tongue is what we’ve got. But when you’re like that you can slip up every now and again. You can say something that you don’t mean.

“But I’m sure there was nothing vindictive about what he said and [the apology] should be accepted and the page should be closed on it.”

The BBC has refused to sack the professional dancer.

Freesat viewers can now watch Strictly in HD for free.