BEN FOGLE, the star of the BBC's hit series Castaway, has branded the organisers of last year's Up-Helly-A' unwelcoming and rude.
The celebrity's new book Offshore: In search of an island of my own chronicles his visits to a number of islands around the UK and abroad.
The chapter devoted to Shetland is mostly given over to Mr Fogle's experience of attending last year's Lerwick fire festival and the picture of Shetland that emerges makes for dismal reading.
Describing how he flew into Shetland along with journalists from around the world to cover Up-Helly-A', Mr Fogle tells how camera teams and reporters from Japan, Germany and Norway were told by Guizer Jarl Peter Fraser that "soothmoothers" weren't welcome anywhere near the procession or the burning site or the dance halls afterwards.
Mr Fogle writes: "In summary, we weren't allowed to go anywhere. Considering one-third of Shetland's 23,000 inhabitants are soothmoothers and fewer than half the population could lay claim to having three or more grandparents born here, the Viking's strict immigration policy seemed a little hard to stomach."
After an interview with an unnamed BBC Radio Shetland presenter Â who Fogle said branded the Up Helly A' carnival as sexist, bigoted, racist, homophobic and xenophobic Â Mr Fogle was eventually barred from attending any of the halls by the Up-Helly-A' committee.
He said: "I spent the rest of the evening sitting on a wall outside the hall listening to the frivolities. It was, to say the least, an anticlimax to the world's greatest fire festival.
"I didn't begrudge the islanders Â after all, it was nothing to do with them Â but I felt ostracised and humiliated as I left the town and headed back to my pencil bed.
"I would love to return to Shetland one day Â on my own terms, that is, and not on those of a man in a cow-horned Viking hat Â becuase you could spend several months here and still not visit every corner of interest or even every single island.
"I would be lying, however, if I said I was sad to leave Shetland on this occasion. It had been a depressing experience for me.
"I came to celebrate the islanders' remarkable culture for a couple of days only to be shunned, rejected and humiliated by the festival's organisers.
"I could understand the protectiveness the organisers felt towards their heritage and their festival, but why the reluctance to share it and parade it? Were they not proud of it?
"Of course one man does not necessarily speak for a whole people and I couldn't help wondering whether the Jarl's sentiments were just his personally held views or representative of a more general narrow-mindedness or even genuine xenophobia."
The media furore surrounding Mr Fraser's behaviour led the local tourist board to bar last year's Up-Helly-A' squad from attending a promotional events outside Shetland such as tourism shows.
The book also tells how Konnie Huq, the Blue Peter presenter, had fled Shetland in tears after a run in with the organisers of the previous year's Up-Helly-A'.
Mr Fogle also hits out at the overheated guesthouse he stayed at in Lerwick which is criticised for its garish dÃ©cor and having beds "barely wide enough for a pencil".
Following weeks of adverse media coverage about last year's Up Helly A' Mr Fraser publicly apologised for his behaviour in a letter in The Shetland Times.
In the letter Mr Fraser said that health and safety issues meant that the number of journalists attending the burning had to be reduced last year.
He also claimed that the use of the term "soothmoothers" was not a derogatory phrase and apologised if his use of the word had caused offence.
He said: "Up-Helly-A' is bigger than all of us and will be around long after we are gone.
"I do regret that something I have said has soiled the name of a festival I hold dear."
In March this year former Jarl Peter Fraser was fined Â£200 at Lerwick Sheriff Court for committing a breach of the peace following a pub ruckus. His behaviour was described in court as childish.
Offshore: In search of an island of my own is published in hardback by Penguin books at Â£18.99.
Up-Helly-A 'more positive' in 2006
ANDY Steven, director of VisitShetland said of Ben Fogle's book: "The article is disappointing but reflects his experience whilst in the company of the 2005 guizer jarl, Mr Peter Fraser. I wish that Ben had been here this year when his experience would have been so much more positive and the world's media were properly catered for.
"The 2006 guizer jarl, Mr Mark Manson, was an excellent ambassador for Shetland"
Secretary of the Lerwick Up-Helly-A' committee Neil Robertson said: "Despite all the inaccuracies it is an entertaining read."
BBC Radio Shetland senior producer Caroline Moyes said: "It's difficult for me to respond in any detail as I haven't been provided with a copy of the article or the context in which the comment was allegedly made.
"However I would say that BBC Radio Shetland has always been, and will continue to be, a supporter of the Up-Helly-A' tradition both in the town and around the isles.
"I understand that Ben Fogle claims the comments came from a male presenter. If this was the case, it was a personal opinion and does not in any way represent the view of the station or the BBC."
Unfortunately, it tars Shetland with the same brush thanks to the few morons who still consider Up Helly Aa as a "Shetlanders only" festival.
The chapter in the book mentions that after being told he was banned, he decided to try and go to the hall anyway only to see a sign on the hall door saying "BANNED - BEN FOGLE - JOURNALIST". Quite pathetic really.
The Konnie Huq incident was news to me, I remember reading in the Times that there was going to be an UHA feature on Blue Peter so I decided to watch it only for them to show one that had been filmed at Sound School in the 80's. I guess the 2 are probably linked.