Big Brother and Shilpa Shetty

The 31-year-old shrieked with joy on hearing she had won the public vote. She said the experience on the C4 show had been "incredible and overwhelming".

Asked about the race row by host Davina McCall, she insisted ringleader Jade Goody "didn't mean to be racist".

She thanked the public for "a fantastic opportunity to make my country proud".

"People make mistakes and we're all human beings, we're all fallible," said Shetty, referring to Goody's behaviour. "She is a little aggressive. She may be hot-tempered... but she's not a racist."