LONDON -- The production company behind a BBC comedy sketch that provoked outrage in the Philippines for being racist said Tuesday that the show was "absurd" and should not be taken seriously.
The Philippine justice minister and the ambassador to Britain have demanded a public apology from the British broadcaster for the sketch, which shows a character urging another to "mate" with a Filipino maid.
In a letter to the BBC, Ambassador Edgardo Espiritu said the episode of "Harry and Paul", the brainchild of British comics Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, was "very malicious and is a blatant display of racial prejudice".
The BBC, which has received 54 complaints over the show, said it had yet to receive a formal complaint from any official Philippine body, but that if one arrives, "we will deal with it according to the correct procedures".
But a spokesman for Tiger Aspect Productions, which makes the show, said it was an adult program that "tackles many situations in a comedic way".
"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," he said.
During the sketch, Enfield's character urges his neighbor to have sex with another neighbor's Filipina maid, saying he is trying to see if "we could mate their Filipina maid with our Northerner, but he's not having any of it".
He then says, "Come on Clyde, mount her" and addressing the maid, says: "You, you, present your rear."
Espiritu wrote that the sketch was "not only egregiously insulting to the Filipino community in the UK. It is also very malicious and is a blatant display of racial prejudice".
"Not only did the show give a bad impression of Filipino women. It also portrayed British employers as perpetrators of exploitation of young women, vulgarity and immoral activities, using their employees, in this case, the domestic worker, as a sex toy," he wrote.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said he would add his name to a petition calling for an apology from the British broadcaster, saying: "I don't like our fellow Filipinos to be insulted."
Millions of Filipinos go abroad to work and the money they send back home is an essential part of the country's economy.
American television network ABC apologized last year for an episode of "Desperate Housewives" which questioned the competence of Filipino doctors.