Soul singer Estelle has accused Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman of being "disrespectful" during an interview with grime star Dizzee Rascal.

Paxman was speaking to Dizzee after Barack Obama's victory in the US election and had asked the rapper if he felt British during a discussion of the possibility of the UK having a black prime minister.

The BBC has said the Newsnight presenter's comments were "a natural part" of the discussion but American Boy star Estelle said Paxman had treated Dizzee like "an idiot".

"Paxman's not going to get away with asking me do I think I'm British," she told the New Statesman.

"That was so... crazy," Estelle said. "I don't ever want to diss another artist that I know is in the same struggle and grind as me, but it was the look on Jeremy Paxman's face.

"I was like, 'He is taking you for an idiot right now! Did no-one brief you?'"

Paxman had asked the chart-topping Dance Wiv Me artist: "Do you feel yourself to be British?"

Dizzee - who Paxman addressed as 'Mr Rascal' - replied: "Course I'm British, man - you know me... it don't matter what colour you are.

"It matters what colour your heart is man, and your intentions.

"I think a black man, purple man, Martian man could run the country - whatever, man, as long as he does right by the people."

Grammy-nominated Estelle says Paxman's question was "disrespectful" to Dizzee, who has "come so far as an artist and a businessman".

In response, a BBC spokesman said the presenter's query was "a direct response to the preceding comments from Baroness Amos, who was saying that in the UK, as opposed to the US, we don't talk about the nature of Britishness and what it means to be British".

"The topics being discussed were race, nationality and identity, and this question was a natural part of that discussion," he added.

18/12/2008 12:29:29