Simon Amstell has said sorry after suggesting there was racial segregation between Radio 1 and its sister station BBC Radio 1Xtra with reference to Nelson Mandela, the BBC reports.

The comedian said during a link: “What is going on? We're next to 1Xtra, it's so white in here. Mandela would not approve of the situation at the BBC.”

Asked by Nick Grimshaw why, he replied: “Look at all these people in here.”

Grimshaw answered: “There's a lot of people.”

“Yeah,” Amstell said. “But look at the segregation that's happened.”

Matt Fincham, producer of the Breakfast Show, commented: “I don't think that's the right thing to be saying right now.”

Amstell laughed, before adding: “Well, someone had to say it. Mandela would say it if he was here.”

At the end of the link, Nick Grimshaw said: “Apologies if you were offended by anything that was said earlier.”

Amstell replied: “Nothing I said was offensive, though.”

The comments were made less than 24 hours after news of Mandela's death was announced.

On Twitter, Amstell apologised, posting: "It may have been unclear this morning, as things often are but what came out of this mouth today was silly. Apologies to everyone involved."

The comic was on the show to promote his new stand-up DVD, which was recorded at the BBC.

The Queen was among those who paid tribute to Mandela, who passed away at home aged 95.