Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has joked that lorry drivers spend their time murdering prostitutes.
His comments were aired on Sunday night, in the midst of the outcry overphone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.
The pre-recorded remarks made by Clarkson were cleared for broadcast by senior BBC executives.
But they have prompted nearly 200 nutter complaints and a furious response from victim support groups and road hauliers. Ofcom, the media regulator, has also received complaints and is considering an investigation.
Clarkson and his co-presenters, James May and Richard Hammond, were taking part in a stunt for the BBC2 show which involved driving lorries around an obstacle course.
Climbing behind the wheel, Clarkson mused: What matters to lorry drivers? Murdering prostitutes? Fuel economy? This is a hard job, and I'm not just saying this to win favour with lorry drivers. It's a hard job - change gear, change gear, change
gear, check your mirrors, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That's a lot of effort in a day.
The Road Haulage Association, which represents Britain's 9,000 haulage companies, has demanded a public apology from the presenter. Spokeswoman Kate Gibbs said: Road hauliers are having a hard enough time as it is without the kind of ridiculous
comments being made. In a week following thousands of similar complaints to the BBC over comments made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, this is in particularly poor taste. It is just another example of celebrities having the licence to say
absolutely anything they like.
This is an unacceptable ... slur on the character of lorry drivers and the character of the industry, and it is grossly unfair. It's up to the BBC what action they take against Clarkson but we are certainly demanding an apology over these
A spokesman for the United Road Transport Union said it had been inundated with complaints from its 17,000 members: We would absoltuely condenm what he said about murdering prostitutes. It beggars belief that those words can be broadcast on TV.
The BBC is an institution that is paid for by the licence fee and they should not be allowing this kind of sick joke.
Clarkson's joke is believed to be a reference to 'Suffolk Strangler' Steve Wright, jailed earlier this year for the murder of five Ipswich prostitutes. The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who killed 13 women, was also a lorry driver.
The BBC issued a statement which read: The vast majority of Top Gear viewers have clear expectations of Jeremy Clarkson's long-established and frequently provocative on-screen persona. This particular reference was used to comically exaggerate
and make ridiculous an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving, and was not intended to cause offence.
The BBC have said complaints about the Top Gear show in which Jeremy Clarkson joked about murdering prostitutes have risen to more than 500.
The Top Gear presenter made the quip about lorry drivers killing sex workers on Sunday's BBC2 show.
The Iceni Project is a charity which had helped some of the murdered prostitutes in Ipswich. The group's director, Brian Tobin, said: I just think it was highly distasteful and insensitive.
Speaking for campaigning group All Women Count, Cari Mitchell has said: It was a truly heartless comment.
But others held different views, including Eddie Stobart chief executive Andrew Tinkler, who said the reference was used to comically exaggerate an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving. He said: They were just having a laugh. It's
the 21st century, let's get our sense of humour in line.
Will Shiers, editor of Truck & Driver magazine, believed most of the UK's drivers who saw the programme loved it. He said: On the whole I thought the show was really entertaining. Yes, a small number of drivers were offended by the
murdering prostitute reference, but they really are in the minority. On the whole I thought the show was really entertaining. If anything it succeeded in demonstrating to car drivers just how difficult it is to drive a truck. It's all a bit
A nutter Labour MP has urged the BBC to dismiss Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson over a joke he made on the motoring show.
And while TV censor Ofcom has said the remark was not a breach of the broadcasting code, Ipswich MP Chris Mole claimed it was a dismissible offence.
Mole was 'offended' by the possible reference to the murders committed by Steve Wright in Suffolk and has written a strongly-worded letter to the BBC's director general Mark Thompson:
The murders in my constituency in 2006 were horrific and the community has spent a lot of time pulling together to respond constructively to such dreadful events, he wrote.
For Mr Clarkson to make light of murder in any circumstance must be a dismissible offence. To do so with complete disregard for the families of the murdered women should make this a matter on which I would expect you to take
Top Gear is a car-focused magazine programme primarily aimed at car enthusiasts. In this edition, the three presenters were given the challenge of customising second-hand lorries and performing certain tasks to experience being an HGV driver.
In one sequence, while discussing the upcoming lorry challenge Jeremy Clarkson said to the other presenters: What matters to lorry drivers? Murdering prostitutes? Fuel economy?
A few minutes later, whilst driving a lorry, Jeremy Clarkson said: This is a hard job [driving a lorry] and I'm not just saying this to win favour with lorry drivers: change gear; change gear; change gear; check your mirrors; murder a prostitute
Ofcom received 339 complaints about comments made by Jeremy Clarkson concerning lorry drivers.
Ofcom considered these complaints under Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).
Top Gear is a long-running entertainment programme and viewers, in general, have come to expect a certain level of outspoken, adult-oriented humour from the presenters.
Taste in comedy can vary widely between people and Ofcom recognised that the comments made by Jeremy Clarkson could be offensive to some people. Ofcom is not an arbiter of good taste but rather it must judge whether a broadcaster has applied generally
accepted standards by ensuring that members of the public were given adequate protection from offensive material.
On this occasion, Ofcom accepts that the comments made by Jeremy Clarkson could shock some viewers. However, Ofcom did not believe the intention of the comments could be seen to imply that all lorry drivers murder prostitutes, nor would it be reasonable
to make such an inference. In Ofcom's view, the presenter was clearly using exaggeration to make a joke, albeit not to everyone's taste. The comments should therefore been seen in that context.
It is often the case that humour can cause offence. To restrict humour only to material which does not cause offence would be an unnecessary restriction of freedom of expression. Ofcom considered that the large majority of the audience would have
understood the comments as being made for comic effect, and were in keeping with what would normally be expected from this presenter in this particular programme.
Given the intent of the comment, the context of the programme and the time of broadcast, Ofcom concluded that the broadcast of this material was justified by the context. Therefore, the programme was not in breach of Rule 2.3.
Jeremy Clarkson has apologised after referring to Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a one-eyed Scottish idiot. He was speaking in Sydney, Australia where he is hosting Top Gear Live , a stage version of the popular BBC show.
During a discussion on the economy, he compared Brown unfavourably with Kevin Rudd, the Australia prime minister, who had addressed his country on the scale of the financial downturn.
He genuinely looked terrified. Poor man, he's actually seen the books, Clarkson said of Rudd.
We have this one-eyed Scottish idiot who keeps telling us everything's fine and he's saved the world and we know he's lying, but he's smooth at telling us.
Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: Mr Clarkson's description of Prime Minister Brown is offensive. Any suggestion that equates disability with incompetence is totally unacceptable. We would be
happy to help Mr Clarkson understand the positive contribution people with sight loss make to society.
In a statement issued by BBC Worldwide, Clarkson said: In the heat of the moment I made a remark about the Prime Minister's personal appearance for which, upon reflection, I apologise.
Scottish politicians reacted angrily to Clarkson's remarks. Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, said: Such a comment is really a reflection on Jeremy Clarkson and speaks for itself. Most people here are proud that the Prime Minister is a Scot and
believe him to be the right person to get the UK through this global economic crisis.
Computer games, television programmes and Hollywood films are encouraging a dangerous culture of speeding among UK drivers, according to a report.
High-speed chases in movies and programmes such as Top Gear have built up a cachet of excitement and glamour around speeding, the report from Co-operative Insurance found.
Launched at a parliamentary reception attended by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick, the report showed that more than a third of drivers aged 17-18 and a quarter of those aged 19-21 broke the speed limit at least once a day.
Just 17% of teenage drivers said they never exceeded the limit, compared with more than half of older drivers. Based on responses from 3,000 people, the report found almost twice as many men as women break the speed limit at least once a day. The report
found that speeding was endemic across both sexes and all age groups with three in four drivers admitting to speeding regularly.
David Neave, director of general insurance at Co-operative Insurance, said: It is undoubtedly the case that games, TV and films have fuelled the increase in speeding. The Fast & The Furious (computer game) and Top Gear are devoted to
speeding and are targeted at a younger audience who are more likely to be encouraged to speed. We need to create the same stigma for speeding that currently exists now against drink-driving.
Fitzpatrick said: Many of the most serious collisions are caused, or their consequences exacerbated, because of someone driving well in excess of the speed limit. Research shows that one in seven people are extreme speeders. These people are playing
Russian roulette with their lives and those of others and they must be hit by the full force of the law.
JThe Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, with co-star James May, offended both the Scout Association and the Catholic Church while
reviewing the Skoda Scout car.
May said: I suppose every summer it goes off to the country somewhere and is touched inappropriately. Clarkson added: No, no, James, that's the Skoda Catholic Church.
Simon Carter, a spokesman for the Scout Association, said it had submitted a formal complaint to the BBC. He said the remarks were tasteless , adding: We have had dozens of calls and emails from Scout members not happy at all. It's a
shame they decided to have a dig at two organisations that do a lot of good in the community. And there is no real excuse because [Top Gear] is not live and is clearly scripted, so producers have heard it and given it the nod anyway.
TV censor Ofcom confirmed it had received complaints following the remarks made on Sunday night's show. But the BBC denied it had received a complaint from the Scout Association.
A spoof advertisement for the VW Scirocco TDI shown on Top Gea r has reportedly received a number of complaints from viewers.
The clip features scenes of panic in Warsaw as residents seemingly rush to leave the country, before a final screencard bears an image of the car and the tagline Volkswagen Scirocco TDI. Berlin to Warsaw in one tank.
A number of viewers are believed to have complained to the BBC, with others reportedly contacting the TV censor Ofcom.
Comment: Proportionate Offence
7th August 2009. From David
The actual number of complaints is 43. The other eight and a half million people who saw it presumably thought it was hilarious
Top Gear is the BBC's long running entertainment series about cars, presented by Jeremy Clarkson and two co-presenters, James May and Richard Hammond.
This edition, the final show of the programme's thirteenth series, featured a spoof remake of an advertisement for a Volkswagen car which showed a man committing suicide with a gunshot to the head, followed by blood splattering out after the impact. The
scene also included a depiction of the dead man lying in a pool of blood.
Fifty viewers contacted Ofcom to complain about this scene which they felt was too graphic and unsuitable for the time of broadcast (20:00) because children were watching. Ofcom noted that a subsequent repeat of the programme on 3 August 2009, in a 19:00
timeslot, removed the scene in which the man was seen shooting himself in the head.
This mock advertisement was one of six or seven such advertisements in this segment of the programme which employed exaggerated and absurd themes to draw attention to the Volkswagen Sirocco's perceived lack of speed.
Other advertisements contained references to the Bible, to mothers in law, to funerals, and to explosions. One advertisement included a scene in a hospital waiting room. An actor who had supposedly been in a car accident was seen holding what
appeared to be his own severed arm from which blood spurted in large quantities for approximately two minutes.
Ofcom considered Code Rule 1.11 (violence to be appropriately limited before the watershed).
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.11
Ofcom recognises that Top Gear is a series with an established audience, some of whom are children. It is known however for its adult orientated content and humour, which some viewers on occasions may find challenging. Viewers have in general come
to expect these features of the programme.
Rule 1.11 is designed to protect children from depictions of violence and its after effects in programmes broadcast before the watershed. Therefore Ofcom considered whether children were likely to be viewing the programme. Audience data indicated that a
significant number 204,000 younger viewers (those aged between 4 and 9 years) were watching the original broadcast at 20:00. Ofcom noted the BBC's decision to remove the image of the gunshot to the head from the programme broadcast in the earlier
timeslot of 19:00, because they considered that a greater number of younger children may have been watching at this time. In fact, the audience figures showed that substantially less 36,000 fewer younger viewers - watched the repeat.
Therefore it was the case that, whilst the programme of 2 August 2009 was not aimed specifically at children, the programme regularly attracts a strong child audience and the broadcaster should have taken this into consideration when including the scene
in the later broadcast. The rule states that violence before the watershed must be appropriately limited and must also be justified by the context.
Firstly, Ofcom considered whether the violence was appropriately limited. Whilst the shooting scene was only a few seconds in duration, it was Ofcom's view that the spoof suicide was graphically depicted on screen with the man holding the gun to his
temple and firing and blood splattering into the air after the bloody impact of the gunshot. Its realistic depiction meant that the violent imagery was not appropriately limited.
Ofcom then considered whether the scene was contextually justified. Context includes, but is not limited to: the editorial content of the programme; the service on which the material is broadcast; the degree of harm or offence likely to be caused; and
the likely expectation of the audience. Firstly, in terms of the editorial content of the programme Ofcom took into account the established nature of Top Gear as described above. It also considered the BBC's argument that the comic exaggeration inherent
in the spoof advertisement overall, and in this scene in particular, rendered it inoffensive and, in context, justifiable.
While scenes such as the hospital patient with the severed arm, described above, were so comically exaggerated and preposterous that they could be said to be justified by the overall context of the Top Gear series as described above, the depiction
of suicide was of a distinct nature from this and so not justified by the context.
In Ofcom's view, it was precisely because Top Gear is an established entertainment programme which features a typical sort of humour that many viewers including some adults watching with children - would not have expected such a violent scene to
Ofcom noted there was no information before the spoof advertisement was shown which would have prepared viewers for its potentially disturbing nature and alerted adult viewers to the fact that it may be unsuitable for younger viewers.
These factors taken together meant that the scene exceeded audience expectations for the programme and led Ofcom - on balance - to conclude that there was no editorial justification for its inclusion. Breach of Rule 1.11
Jeremy Clarkson is in trouble again, this time with Romanian government
The production team of the BBC two hit series Top Gear have been asked by the Romanian government to remove supposedly offensive remarks made about the country. The Romanian ambassador Dr Ion Jinag was surprised and disappointed by the references to
Borat and gypsies.
When Clarkson and his co-presenters Hammond and May visited the Romanian countryside, Jeremy put on a pork pie style hat and talked of entering Borat country. Clarkson said: I'm wearing this hat so the gypsies think I am one. I'm told they can be
violent if they don't like the look of you.
The presenter was also seen washing his face before he said 'cool, refreshing communist water'. The Romanian embassy said: We anticipate a positive response to our request for changes.
Gay couples are furious after being banned from studio recordings of Top Gear
They are prevented from joining the TV audience under a bizarre rule that stipulates bookings must be 50% male and 50% female .
But the policy was slammed as discrimination . Simon Reeves who was turned down when he and his partner applied for tickets to the BBC2 show, said: I couldn't believe it. Top Gear is the blokiest show on telly but we weren't allowed unless we
took a couple of female friends. It seems unfair that a married heterosexual couple are the 'ideal' applicants but same sex couples have no chance whatsoever.
All applications to attend the five-hour recording in an aircraft hangar in Dunsfold, Surrey, must be for groups of up to four, made up equally of males and females. The website which handles the allocation says : Each booking requires equal
amounts of men to women, so please ensure that you have a 50/50 split of guys and gals in your party.
A BBC spokeswoman said same sex couples were welcome. The 50/50 split was simply to avoid the entire audience being made up of men . Viewers don't want to just look at a load of ugly men, she explained.
Top Gear is a long-running light entertainment series presented by Jeremy Clarkson based on a motoring magazine format.
Programmes are generally broadcast later in the evening schedule and typically include quirky and humorous banter between the presenters.
In this particular programme, Jeremy Clarkson was presenting his views about a new Ferrari car and he compared it to older versions, one of which was owned by co-presenter James May.
His commentary included the following opinion about the appearance of Ferraris in general: Striking - yes, but pretty - no. This one for example is just vulgar, and even James' Ferrari (the 430) was a bit wrong - that smiling front end - it
looked like a simpleton - should have been called the 430 Speciale Needs .
Ofcom received two complaints. In summary, the complainants were offended by Clarkson's use of speciale needs .
Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code (material which may cause offence must be justified by the context).
In response, the BBC said it regretted that the comments made by Jeremy Clarkson in the programme caused offence to some viewers. The BBC said that it was the car itself that was the subject of the fun being poked at and its owner, co-presenter
The BBC recognised, however, following complaints received, that the comment had the potential to cause offence so it was removed from the repeat version of the programme and the version available on BBC iPlayer. It assured Ofcom that the original
version of the programme would not be repeated again. The BBC offered its apologies for any offence caused by the comments.
Ofcom recognises that discriminatory language of this nature has the potential to be very offensive to some viewers, as it could be seen to single out certain sections of society in a derogatory way because of their disability.
In Ofcom's view, the comments made by Jeremy Clarkson in this instance were capable of causing offence. In particular, on this occasion he was clearly criticising the car's physical appearance by directly comparing it to a simpleton and
saying it should have been called 430 Speciale Needs .
In Ofcom's opinion, while obviously intended as a joke and not aimed directly at an individual with learning difficulties, the comment could easily be understood as ridiculing people in society with a particular physical disability or learning
Ofcom acknowledged that the BBC took immediate steps in response to complaints it received about the programme. In particular the BBC had voluntarily removed the comments from the iPlayer version of the programme and the repeat version broadcast
several days later, and made the decision not to repeat the programme in its original format. It had also apologised for any offence caused by the comments, underlining that there was no intent to make fun of those with special needs.
Ofcom therefore considered this case resolved.
Comment: The BBC needs Jeremy Clarkson to be offensive
I like Jeremy Clarkson because beneath all the bluster and provocation, he seems to be more bluster and
provocation. In the weird Top Gear family where James May is the posh mum and Richard Hammond the cheeky kid Clarkson is the dad who says silly things and of whom nobody takes any notice.
This, surely, is the point about the latest controversy in which Clarkson said a Ferrari looked like a simpleton and should have been called special needs , for which the BBC apologised. On Top Gear, Clarkson
is expected to make outrageous remarks, and we are expected to ignore them.
Top Gear's Christmas special had a bit of fun with religious themes.
The show with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, nd James May included a joke with a little baby Stig doll as Jesus in a manger.
The show was a ratings hit, but the send-ups and flippant remarks triggered a few nutter whinges.
The presenters posed as the Three Wise Men to drive through Middle East countries. At one stage, they even wore burkas.
The Daily Star reports a few minor whinges on TV discussion forums and that hate preacher Anjem Choudary said: The burka is a symbol of our religion and people should not make jokes about it in any way. It would have been equally bad even if they'd
not been in a country mainly populated by Muslims.
Comment: A Bastion Against PC
30th December 2010. From Andrew
What the fuck?
Seriously, that's the only way I can express my thoughts for what has to be the most ridiculous subject ever.
Why is it, Top Gear goes to a foreign country and makes a few HARMLESS jokes, and the nutters are in uproar? Why is it people can come to the UK with their views and opinions, and be honoured for them, yet when we make a
slight hint of a joke about a god that MIGHT NOT EVEN EXIST (face it, have you seen him?) there's pandemonium.
Why is religion such a pain in the ass? I salute the Top Gear team for doing what Top Gear has always done. Provided entertainment. They have not been trampled on by those silly PC pricks who claim you can't say that,
it might upset 1 out of 6 billion people.
The BBC has apologised for remarks made on the television programme, Top Gear , that caused 'outrage' in Mexico.
The comments about Mexicans were made when they were discussing Mexican sports cars. Reviewing the Mastretta, Richard Hammond said vehicles reflected national characteristics: Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight,
leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat. The presenters, known for their edgy jibes, then described Mexican food as refried sick .
Jeremy Clarkson added that he was confident he would not receive any complaints about their comments because the Mexican ambassador would be asleep.
But somebody on the ambassador's staff must have been awake, as the ambassador demanded an apology, calling the remarks offensive, xenophobic and humiliating .
In a letter to Mexico's ambassador in London, the BBC said it was sorry if it had offended some people, but said jokes based on national stereotyping were part of British national humour.
Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganised and over dramatic, the French being arrogant and the Germans being over-organised, the BBC
said. It added that stereotype-based comedy was allowed within BBC guidelines in programmes where the audience knew they could expect it, as was the case with Top Gear . Whilst it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme
or who are unfamiliar with its humour, the executive producer has made it clear to the ambassador that that was absolutely not the show's intention .
Hundreds of Mexicans contacted the BBC Spanish-language website BBC Mundo to protest about the remark More expressed outrage in e-mails to Mexican newspapers and websites, where the Top Gear jibes have received huge coverage. The matter was
also raised in the Mexican senate, where lawmakers were considering a motion of censure.
An all-party group of British MPs also urged the BBC to apologise, calling the remarks ignorant, derogatory and racist .
Scenes in which Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May poked fun at Mexicans will be cut before the show is broadcast in the United States next week. The show is broadcast on the BBC America channel
We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with comments made about Mexicans in the programme on 30 January 2011.
The producers of Top Gear have apologised to the Mexican Ambassador for the comments made about him during the show. Whilst the majority of the piece on the Mastretta had been discussed in advance with BBC Editorial Policy
staff, the comments about him were ad libbed by the presenters during the recording. The BBC's Editorial Guidelines are very clear about singling out individuals for irreverent/mocking/ comments. Those guidelines were not adhered to and the Top Gear
production team has apologised for this. The comments about the Ambassador have been removed from all repeats of the programme.
With regard to the other comments made about Mexicans, these were indeed playing off a stereotype, and that practice is something that regular viewers of Top Gear will be familiar with, as the presenters often make jokes about the
perceived characteristics of various nationalities when talking about the cars made in those countries. It is something that has been done in the past with the French, the Germans, the Americans and the Italians, so Mexico was not singled out for special
treatment in this case.
Comments made by the Top Gear presenters are clearly exaggerated for comic effect - to imply that a sports car is no good because it will spend all day asleep is self evidently absurd, and not meant to be taken as vindictive. The
Top Gear audience understands this clearly and treats these remarks accordingly.
The UK prides itself on being a tolerant nation, but one of the contributing factors towards that tolerance is the fact that jokes made around national stereotyping are commonplace, and are indeed a robust part of our national
humour. Typically the most comedic ones are negative - for example our own comedians make material out of the fact that the British are supposed to be terrible cooks, terrible romantics, and forever happy to come second. In fact, some of the more
humorous complaints we have received from Mexico are based on stereotypical retorts, with one excellent one in particular referring to the presenters as effete tea drinkers.
In line with that British tradition, stereotype-based comedy is allowed within BBC guidelines, in programmes where the audience has clear expectations of that being the case, as it indeed is with Top Gear. Of course it may appear
offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour.
It was not the intention of the programme to offend Mexicans but rather to use a clearly unbelievable stereotype of Mexicans to humorous effect.
Top Gear is a long-running light entertainment series presented by Jeremy Clarkson, based on a motoring magazine format.
A section of this particular programme was devoted to car news, with the three presenters discussing new cars unveiled that week. One of the presenters, James May, introduced a new sports car from Mexico, saying that it was called the Tortilla
(a name he then admitted he had made up). Richard Hammond then said:
Why would you want a Mexican car? Cos cars reflect national characteristics, don't they? So German cars are very well built and ruthlessly efficient, Italian cars are a bit flamboyant and quick -- Mexican cars are just going to be a lazy,
feckless, flatulent oaf with a moustache, leaning against a fence, asleep, looking at a cactus, with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat.
James May responded by describing Mexican food as like sick with cheese on it , which Richard Hammond corrected to re-fried sick . When the discussion turned to the car's price and specifications - both of which were disparaged -
Richard Hammond returned to the subject and sparked the following conversation:
Richard Hammond: I'm sorry but just imagine waking up and remembering you're Mexican. 'Oh no ...'
Jeremy Clarkson: It'd be brilliant, it'd be brilliant because you could just go straight back to sleep again. 'Aaah, I'm a Mexican ...'
Richard Hammond: ... that's all I'm going to do all day ...
Jeremy Clarkson: That's why we're not going to get any complaints about this -- cos the Mexican Embassy, the Ambassador's going to be sitting there with a remote control like this [slumps in seat and snores]. They won't complain. It's fine.
Ofcom received 157 complaints from viewers. The complainants were offended by these comments, which they considered, in summary: to be derogatory, racial stereotypes and as such cruel, xenophobic, discriminatory and racist.
Ofcom considered these complaints under Rule 2.3 of the Code, which states:
In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...
Ofcom Decision: Not in breach
In this instance, we recognised that the comments made about Mexican people were based on negative national stereotypes and had the potential to be very offensive both to Mexican people specifically, as well as to viewers more generally.
Ofcom therefore considered whether the broadcast of these offensive comments had been justified by the context. In this case, Ofcom took into account that Top Gear is well known for its irreverent style and sometimes outspoken humour, as well as
the regular format of the studio banter between the three presenters. We considered that viewers of Top Gear were likely to be aware that the programme frequently uses national stereotypes as a comedic trope and that there were few, if any,
nationalities that had not at some point been the subject of the presenters' mockery throughout the history of this long running programme. For example, this same episode featured a competition between the UK's Top Gear presenters and their
Australian counterparts, throughout which the Australians were ridiculed for various national traits.
In this instance, therefore, Ofcom considered that the majority of the audience would be familiar with the presenters' approach to mocking, playground-style humour, and would have considered that applying that approach to national stereotypes was
in keeping with the programme's usual content, and the presenters' typical style. Ofcom was of the view that the majority of the audience would therefore be likely to have understood that the comments were being made for comic effect.
However, Ofcom notes that taste in comedy can vary widely, and that these comments would not have been to everyone's taste. Ofcom is not an arbiter of good taste, but rather it must judge whether a broadcaster has applied generally accepted
standards by ensuring that members of the public were given adequate protection from offensive material. Humour can frequently cause offence. However, Ofcom considers that to restrict humour only to material which does not cause offence would be
an unnecessary restriction of freedom of expression.
Given the comedic intent and the context of this programme, Ofcom concluded that the broadcast of this material was justified by the context. The programme was therefore not in breach of Rule 2.3.
The BBC has upheld complaints against Top Gear over Richard Hammond's comments that Mexicans are lazy, feckless [and] flatulent .
The Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) investigated complaints (from 11 viewers and from the Mexican Section of the Latin American Studies Association) prompted by remarks about Mexicans by the presenters, made in the context of reviewing a Mexican
The comments about Mexicans were made when they were discussing Mexican sports cars. Reviewing the Mastretta, Richard Hammond said vehicles reflected national characteristics: Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent,
overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat. The presenters, known for their edgy jibes, then described Mexican food as refried sick .
Jeremy Clarkson added that he was confident he would not receive any complaints about their comments because the Mexican ambassador would be asleep.
Although the remarks were humorously intended (the intention being to call attention to the absurdity of a certain stereotype of Mexicans), their tone and cumulative effect seemed to the ECU to give the impression of reinforcing, rather than
ridiculing, the stereotype.
BBC Vision discussed the reasons for, and the issues arising from, the finding with the production team.
UK's favourite loud mouth had a bit of a rant at the strike by public sector workers.
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson said live on The One Show that public sector workers out on strike should be executed in front of their families
He prefaced the remarks, however, by asserting that he liked the strikers as the industrial action meant there was no traffic on the roads. Adding that he had to be balanced as he worked for the BBC, he then joked: I would have them taken
outside and executed them in front of their families
Clarkson went on to 'shock' viewers by saying trains should not stop for people who have committed suicide by throwing themselves onto the rails.
The comments sparked the inevitable 'storm of outrage' on Twitter.
The BBC said in a statement: The One Show apologised at the end of the show to viewers who may have been offended by Jeremy Clarkson's comments.
Update: Well...Perhaps a few thousand or so whinges
Jeremy Clarkson's remarks on Wednesday night's One Show prompted more than 5,000 complaints to the BBC -- and a political 'storm' in which Ed Miliband said his remarks were absolutely disgraceful and disgusting . It fell to his
friend and Boxing Day dining companion David Cameron to provide crucial, if lighthearted support to the presenter.
The prime minister, in a TV interview, played down the incident: That's obviously a silly thing to say and I'm sure he didn't mean that. I didn't see the remark but I'm sure it's a silly thing to say.
Shortly after, as the BBC feared a repeat of the Sachsgate affair which led to the resignations of Ross and Brand, Clarkson issued an apology and the BBC deployed one of its most senior executives, George Entwistle, to sort out matters
behind the scenes.
The presenter's apology said: I didn't for a moment intend these remarks to be taken seriously -- as I believe is clear if they're seen in context. If the BBC and I have caused any offence, I'm quite happy to apologise for it alongside them.
Humour challenged Dave Prentis of Unison said the unions were consulting on taking Clarkson to court and called on the BBC to sack him.
The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said the jibe was more than silly : If it was intended as a joke it was in pretty awful taste. If he wanted to confirm his caricature as an outlandishly rightwing figure, he has managed to do
The BBC has received more than 21,000 complaints over Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson's remarks that striking public sector workers should be shot.
BBC Audience Services said the Corporation had received 21,335 complaints as of 09:30 GMT.
The deputy general secretary of Unison, the UK's largest union, Karen Jennings, told the BBC:
We've accepted the apology.
He's recognised that he went too far in saying what he said and what we're doing now is extending our hand to him to come and work with a healthcare assistant to see just how they work and the healthcare they deliver.
The BBC has published a response to complaints about Jeremy Clarkson's jolly gape that strikers should be shot. The BBC said:
As has now been widely reported, we had many complaints about a number of Jeremy Clarkson's comments on the show. The One Show is a live topical programme which often reflects the day's talking points. Usually we get it right, but on this
occasion we feel the item wasn't perfectly judged.
The presenters apologised at the end of the programme to viewers who were offended by his comments and the BBC and Jeremy would like to apologise for any offence caused. Jeremy has said: I didn't for a moment intend these remarks to be taken
seriously -- as I believe is clear if they're seen in context. If the BBC and I have caused any offence, I'm quite happy to apologise for it alongside them.
Meanwhile the Labour MP of Kingston Upon Hull East, Karl Turner, has proposed an early day motion
whingeing about Clarkson as follows:
That this House condemns the disgraceful and disgusting remarks made by Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC; notes that his comments have been criticised by thousands of licence payers, hon. Members and unions; believes that his remarks were inflammatory
and have left workers and their children shocked and upset; further believes that high profile TV presenters have influence on their audience and should act with responsibility at all times; calls on the Government to give a full response; and
urges the BBC Director General to commence disciplinary proceedings.
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson's appearance on The One Show is set to be one of the most complained-about TV shows of all time after the number of complaints made topped 31,000.
As of this morning, the tally complaints morning had reached 31,057, more than 10,000 up on the last published figure from Friday morning of 21,000.
Ofcom also received hundreds of complaints about the interview. The media regulator is not set to publish an update until Wednesday, but reports suggest there have been an additional 500 to 1,000 complaints, taking the total number of complaints
close to 32,000.
HMV says sales of Clarkson's Powered Up DVD have soared after he said public sector strikers should be shot
Powered Up , in which Clarkson relocates with the Stig to the south of France to find his favourite car of the Year , doubled on Thursday and saw a similar jump on Friday.
The retailer would have expected sales of the title, along with man other DVDs, to spike in the runup to Christmas. But industry sources suggested that the Clarkson controversy and ensuing media coverage would have been responsible for as much as
a 25% to 50% increase across high street and online sales.
An HMV spokesman said:
We've found in the past that controversy involving artists, with all the media coverage this generates, can often boost sales of their products.
Clarkson is one of those 'Marmite' personalities that you probably either love or hate, and the chances are that many of the public he upset weren't likely to be among his fans in the first place, while people who do appreciate his sense of
humour and follow him on TV may have felt prompted to go out and buy his Powered Up DVD over the weekend.
BBC postpones Stephen Fry's QI lest nutters are offended by the rapid reappearance of Jeremy Clarkson
Thanks to David who comments
Cowards, giving in to a campaign by the tabloids, who have mobilised tens of thousands of people who never even saw the One Show incident but were told what to think he said. And the thing about train suicides wasn't two days later, it was
in the same show...
The BBC has postponed an episode of QI featuring Jeremy Clarkson to avoid being criticised for putting him back on air so soon
after his joke unappreciated joke about shooting striking public employees.
The programme was filmed over the summer but the channel said, in light of the recent events, some of his comments might be taken out of context. The BBC said:
It is not unusual for the running order of programmes to change. The billed episode of QI will be shown at a later date.
Yahoo! reports incorrectly that Two days after his rant about the protesters, the 51-year-old became embroiled in further controversy after calling people who throw themselves under trains selfish .
BBC director general Mark Thompson defended Jeremy Clarkson to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee. He said
that Clarkson's comments were said entirely in jest and were not intended to be taken seriously and that he would not be sacked.
Challenged by committee member Jim Sheridan to sack Clarkson, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said: Were we to sack him for saying something pretty stupid that would set precedents that mean a lot of people would never get to broadcast.
Thompson said: Although clearly he's a polarising figure for the BBC, there are many millions of people who enjoy and support Jeremy Clarkson. That has to be balanced against a couple of flippant remarks in one programme.
Jeremy Clarkson, the TV presenter, has been ludicrously criticised for making trivial tasteless comments about the Morecambe Bay cockle picking tragedy in which 23 Chinese migrant workers died.
In a column for The Sun newspaper, Clarkson mocked the sport of synchronised swimming as Chinese women in hats, upside down, in a bit of water , adding: You can see that sort of thing on Morecambe Beach. For free.
Hardly worthy of mention but Tracy Brown, a Morecambe town councillor had a little whinge. She said:
I choose to ignore such comments and treat them with the contempt they deserve. In fact, this is beneath contempt. He is just trying to make himself look big at other people's expense. Many people around here were deeply affected by the tragedy.
But then the tiff escalated to international levels: Ms Dai Qingli, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Embassy, went well overboard. She said:
We deplore and oppose Mr Clarkson's comments, which are insulting and show a woeful disrespect of decency and moral standards. We regret that The Sun has publicised such remarks.
Top Gear's Christmas Special had a bit of fun in India. The usual irreverent jokes ridiculed India's food,
toilets, traditional clothing, trains and history.
The jokes notably included Clarkson riding around the country's worst slums in a 4-litre Jaguar fitted with a toilet, joking: This is perfect because everyone here gets the trots.
Not all the jokes targeted India, there was plenty of self effacing fun too. An advertising banner incompetently pasted to the side of train was split as carriages parted losing the last 3 letters from: Eat English Muffins
Even David Cameron participated in the Top Gear fun. He had a cameo role waving off the Top Gear trio on a trade mission as ambassadors of Britain to save the UK from bankruptcy.
At the time the programme got up the nose of the nutter mp Keith Vaz.
Now the Indian High Commission in London has formally complained to the BBC, accusing its producers of deceiving them over the nature of the programme, which was jokingly billed as a trade mission .
We've received complaints from some viewers who felt the Top Gear: India Special was offensive towards the country and its culture.
Top Gear's response
The Top Gear road trip across India was filled with incidents but none of them were an insult to the Indian people or the culture of the country. Our film showed the charm, the beauty, the wealth, the poverty and the idiosyncrasies of India but
there's a vast difference between showing a country, warts and all, and insulting it. It's simply not the case that we displayed a hostile or superior attitude to our hosts and that's very clear from the way the presenters can be seen to interact
with them along the way. We genuinely loved our time in India and if there were any jokes to be had they were, as ever, reflected back on the presenters rather than the Indian people.
Offsite Comment: Don't give way to the Top Gear-bashers
What Clarkson's audience understands that his shrill critics do not is that he is not to be taken seriously.
I wonder what proportion of the five million viewers of the Top Gear India Special over Christmas was desperate-to-be-offended members of the chattering classes? Skipping the second instalment of Great Expectations, they no doubt sat through the
show solely to tweet about how awful Jeremy Clarkson and Co's monkeying about on the road to the Indian Himalayas was.
A disfigurement group has called for Jeremy Clarkson and the BBC to apologise after the Top Gear presenter compared the shape of a new car to people with growths on their faces .
In an episode of the BBC motoring show Clarkson likened a Japanese car with a large bulge on the back to a really ugly growth.
He suggested that people wouldn't talk to [the car] at a party and did an impression of the elephant man, the disfigured Victorian character, after fellow presenter Richard Hammond dubbed the vehicle the elephant car .
James Partridge, the chief executive of group Changing Faces , said that Clarkson's comments create a culture of ridicule and bullying against people who are ill, disabled or have unusual features.
Mocking people with a disfigurement, a facial growth in this case, is irresponsible and extremely offensive. People with disfigurements experience discrimination and bullying which occasionally includes violence, said Partridge.
The group has written a letter of complaint to Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, and the BBC, which has received 55 complaints about the broadcast.
A BBC spokesman said that there were no plans to edit Clarkson's comments about growths out of tonight's repeat how, but declined to comment further.
The controversial exchange came as Clarkson was asked his opinion of the civil servants engaged in a day-long industrial action over pensions.
His initial response was: I think they have been fantastic. Absolutely. London today has just been empty. Everybody stayed at home, you can whizz about, restaurants are empty.
However, he added: We have to balance this though, because this is the BBC. Frankly, I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.
This resulted in 31,000 complaints to the BBC, and 736 to Ofcom.
But the TV censor Ofcom concluded that the Top Gear presenter's comments were not made seriously, and that Clarkson's words were not at all likely to encourage members of the public... to act on them in any way .
It would have been clear to most viewers that his comments were not an expression of seriously held beliefs or views that would be literally interpreted
Ofcom acknowledged the comments were potentially offensive but concluded that they were justified by the context.
Ofcom also pointed out that presenter Alex Jones had made a wide-ranging apology regarding Clarkson's comments at the end of the programme. The BBC also later apologised for any offence caused.
The BBC has said religious exclamations are part of everyday language and refused to apologise to a vicar who complained about comments made by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
Clarkson was filmed shouting Jesus wept while driving a KTM X-bow open top sports car and said: God Almighty while driving a Bentley powered by a Spitfire engine.
Graeme Anderson, the vicar of St Mary's church in Radcliffe-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire accused the BBC of double standards where religion was concerned. He whinged:
I found his comments very, very offensive and I think many Christians would also. Related.
They belittled, trivialised and cheapened Jesus Christ and Christianity. I was really quite surprised as he is a BBC presenter and it is blasphemous.
In a statement, the BBC said:
We're aware that blasphemous language, including the casual or derogatory use of holy names or religious words, can be a source of particular offence to some members of the audience, but judgements about its use are difficult because they depend on tone
There is no consensus about words that are acceptable, when, and by whom, as different words cause different degrees of offence to different people. Some of the words and phrases that can cause offence have, whether we like it or not, become part of
everyday language and it would be unrealistic for broadcasters to suggest they are not widely used in a range of contexts.
Ofcom has cleared Jeremy Clarkson's comparison of a Japanese car to the Elephant Man of breaching the broadcasting code. Ofcom had received about 40 complaints that it was offensive to people suffering from facial disfigurement.
Clarkson compared a Japanese car/camper van hybrid to people with growths on their faces in an edition of BBC2's Top Gear in February.
The controversial presenter deployed gestures as if he had a disability and slurred his speech in a way that seemed to mimic Joseph Merrick, the so-called Elephant Man, saying that the car looked like something you would not talk to at a party.
Co-presenter Richard Hammond called it the elephant car.
An Ofcom spokesman said:
Ofcom recognises that the comments were potentially offensive to individuals living with facial disfigurement. However, on balance we believe that they would not have exceeded the likely expectation of the audience, and any potential offence was
justified by the context. We have informed the BBC of the issues raised by the complainants so they can be taken into consideration for future programmes.
An appeal to the Editorial Standards Committee concerns an episode of Top Gear which included comments about people with growths on their faces in an item about a new campervan.
The complainant said that the item was offensive, prejudicial and unacceptable . The complainant also expressed the view that the BBC's Editorial Guidelines should be updated to include specific consideration for under-represented groups
of people in British society, including those with facial disfigurements.
The Committee concluded:
that the audience would have understood the connection which the presenters drew between the character played by John Hurt in The Elephant Man and the design of the Prius campervan, and that the joke at this point was about the vehicle's
that the slurred speech used by Jeremy Clarkson was also part of this reference to The Elephant Man, but that this mimicry was on the margins of acceptability.
that, while most of the comments made about the campervan would have not exceeded the expectations of the audience, a remark about talking to a car at a party and not being able to look at a person with a facial disfigurement, taken
with the reference to …one of those really ugly things … I'm talking about a growth… , strayed into an offensive stereotypical assumption not confined to The Elephant Man.
that the programme was in breach of the Guidelines on Harm and Offence as the exchanges about facial disfigurement noted above were not editorially justified and did not meet generally accepted standards in the context of their portrayal of a
that the Editorial Guidelines and corresponding Guidance together give sufficient and appropriate guidance to programme-makers on the issue of the portrayal of minorities and vulnerable social groups and it was not necessary to change the
Guidelines in the way that the complainant had suggested.
A few outraged tweeters have whinged at a Top Gear sketch in which Jeremy Clarkson and James may alluded to caravaners being dogging fans.
A segment on mini 4x4s used to tow caravans included a scene where the Top Gear presenters were seen in a darkened car park filled with doggers driving 4x4s.
Clarkson was seen flashing his interior lights while May was seen vigorously polishing his steering wheel.
Viewer Matthew Urquhart tweeted: The feature about caravaning was disgusting and offensive. Ian Gritt posted a non-complaint: My 11yr old son is watching #TopGear. I'm pleased to say the dogging scene left him looking baffled.
An Ofcom spokesman said they had received a small number of complaints . Presumably this means two, which will be promptly ignored.
We've received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy that there appeared to be food wasted during an item where the presenters raced cars around a supermarket.
Top Gear's response
Since we were making a tribute to 80s Hot Hatches, the supermarket challenge was filmed in the context of ram raiding shops, which was a phenomenon of that period. As such, there would inevitably be damage, especially at the speed Jeremy and
Richard were driving. Like all TV shows we have a budget for props, and the money this time happened to be spent on supermarket produce, but although the wastage looked substantial we were mindful to choose the cheapest foodstuffs -such as
juices -that would give us maximum visual impact for the least amount of damage.
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has found himself at the centre of a trivial 'racism' row following a comment he made during the final show of the series.
Clarkson was commenting on a newly constructed makeshift bridge over the River Kwai: That is a proud moment, but there's a slope on it , as a man walked towards them on the bridge. Fellow presenter Richard Hammond replied saying: You're right,
it's definitely higher on that side.
A few viewers took to Twitter in 'shock' following his use of the word slope in the second episode of the two-part special, which is apparently considered a derogatory term for people of Asian decent.
One wrote: Topgear - There's a slope on it - Subtle racism!, while another viewer appeared to agree: That slope joke on Top Gear tonight was ill advised. A great show ultimately spoilt by a gag too far.'
The BBC has received a formal complaint over an supposedly racist remark made by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson during one of the show's Burma specials.
A law firm acting on behalf of the nearly unknown actress Somi Guha has written to the BBC claiming Clarkson's use of the word slope , which can be used as a derogatory term for people of Asian descent, contravened the Equality Act 2010. Guha is
seeking an apology and disciplinary action against Clarkson. In the formal complaint, sent to the corporation's management and the BBC Trust, law firm Equal Justice wrote:
Casual racism in the media by established BBC stalwarts is constantly brushed aside. Discrimination within the industry is accepted. Racial profiling of roles is accepted and expected. I find it offensive that Jeremy Clarkson refers to people of
different races in pejorative terms.
[The show] must be censured to ensure that another race or nation is not targeted, and that the BBC should give due consideration to not re-commissioning Top Gear until these matters are addressed.
The show attracted 10 other complaints from viewers.
Update: Top Gear's producer grovels over trivial quip
Top Gear's executive producer, Andy Wilman, has expressed regret for supposed offence caused by a quip on the show made by presenter Jeremy Clarkson that some easily offended viewers found racist. In a statement, Wilman said:
When we used the word "slope" in the recent Top Gear Burma special it was a light-hearted wordplay joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing it.
We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word 'slope' is considered by some to be offensive and although it might not be widely recognised in the UK, we appreciate that it can be considered offensive
to some here and overseas, for example in Australia and the USA.
If we had known that at the time we would not have broadcast the word in this context and regret any offence caused.
Lawyers are to write to Barack Obama and the ambassadors of every country in which Top Gear airs asking them if the BBC motoring series should continue to be broadcast, following Jeremy Clarkson's mumbled use of the N-word .
Lawrence Davies, director of law firm Equal Justice, claimed Top Gear was racist and told MediaGuardian his firm did not accept the apology Clarkson has made. He also asked who had approved the scene when Clarkson is shown choosing between two
cars by reciting the words to the nursery rhyme eeny, meeny, miny, moe and then apparently mumbling the word 'nigger'. Davies said:
We are to write to every ambassador and the US president next week asking them to consider the evidence and then to decide if this racist show should be broadcast in their country in future.
Davies also attacked education secretary Michael Gove for defending Clarkson on ITV's Good Morning Britain:
Michael Gove, a close ally of Clarkson's friend, the PM, rallied to Clarkson's defence today. We worked with him on the Baby P whistleblower case so we know him well. That the person responsible for our children's education should condone an apologetic
racist before the actual investigation has begun (let alone concluded) is an absolute disgrace.
Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman also chipped into the outrage and called for the BBC to sack Jeremy Clarkson. She screeched that anybody who used the word in whatever context should have no place at the BBC.
The BBC is still deciding what action to take and has yet to confirm if Clarkson will take part in the next series of Top Gear, which is due to begin filming soon. The BBC published the following response to complaints recieved:
We've received complaints regarding Jeremy Clarkson allegedly using a racist term during the filming of an episode of Top Gear .
Jeremy Clarkson has set out the background to this regrettable episode. We have made it absolutely clear to him, the standards the BBC expects on air and off. We have left him in no doubt about how seriously we view this.
Update: Farange takes a stand against PC extremism
Jeremy Clarkson has admitted that he will be sacked by the BBC if he makes another supposedly offensive remark. Writing in his weekly Sun column the presenter also attacked the BBC for urging him to apologise over the footage, complaining he could not
say sorry for something he had not done. He said:
I've been told by the BBC that if I make one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time, I will be sacked.
And even the angel Gabriel would struggle to survive with that hanging over his head.
It's inevitable that one day, someone, somewhere will say that I've offended them, and that will be that.
Speaking on a campaign visit to Dover, Nigel Farage said:
The more controversial Jeremy Clarkson is, the more people watch his programme, and the more money the BBC makes out of marketing a show that sells globally and makes them a fortune.
I would think it's just typical Clarkson, getting very, very close to the line of being offensive but perhaps not quite going over it.
Offsite Comment: The N-word: do we have to spell it out?
Top Gear is to be investigated by Ofcom following complaints presenter Jeremy Clarkson used a derogatory term. An episode of Top Gear, broadcast on BBC Two on March 16, showed Clarkson using the word slope , as an Asian man walked over a bridge in
The scene led to a complaint of casual racism , with Clarkson accused of referring to people of different races in pejorative terms .
The complaint will now be investigated in full by TV censor Ofcom, which will consider whether the broadcaster breached its codes.
Offsite Comment: Clarkson: the c-word that counts is context
The hysteria over his n-word mumble marks a new stage in the war on words.
Comment: Living PC Language
10th May 2014. From Alan
A living language changes, as does acceptability of vocabulary in various contexts.
Go back to the middle ages, and Wyclif translates the Old Testament text on the ritual impurity of eunuchs by referring to the ballogys brused or kut off and he manages to employ a euphemism using twice as many naughty words as he avoids when he
writes of the part of the bodye from which turdes are shatten out . Can't imagine a modern translation of the Bible referring to bollocks being bruised or cut off, or to the part of the body from which turds are shit out!
The other evening, I was looking at the photos in the bar at Birmingham Town Hall, showing the history of the building, illustrating -- appropriately left to right -- meetings addressed by Paul Robeson, Harold Wilson and Oswald Mosley. The poster put up
by a Communist body for Robeson's speech happily used the not-quite-so-bad N-word, referring to Robeson's fight for American negros . (That's how they spelled it, with no E in the plural.) The National Association of Colored People in the USA
still retains the use of coloured , now regarded as offensive on both sides of the pond.
I remember about twenty years ago reading a news report of a fight between a black man and a white man who had called him a fucking nigger . The paper had asterisked the F-word while printing the N-word in full. It struck me as a bit odd, since I
don't think fucking was the word that made the black guy punch his lights out!
Going back 30 years or so, I remember a vicar's wife bemoaning the fact that you could no longer refer to a lovely clothing colour as nigger brown . A couple of minutes later, she reduced her husband, her son, and her son's mate (me) to
horrified and uncontrollable mirth as she added, I believe in calling a spade a spade.
The BBC Trust has said it will not consider an appeal calling for further action to be taken over Jeremy Clarkson's apparent use of the N-word in filming for Top Gear , because the clip was never actually broadcast on the BBC2 motoring show.
Complainants whinged that BBC management did not seem to take Clarkson's offences seriously, was inconsistent in sanctions applied to protect him for commercial reasons, and that there had not been meaningful apologies .
Top Gear Burma Special
BBC 2, 16 March 2014, 20:00
Top Gear is a long-running magazine series on motoring. Presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond provide information and commentary about cars. Programmes are light-hearted in tone, and typically include quirky and humorous banter
between the presenters.
This particular episode was the second part of a two-part special, filmed in Burma, where the Top Gear presenters crossed the country in trucks and built a makeshift bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand. On observing the completed bridge, on which an
Asian man is seen walking towards them, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond engaged in the following conversation:
Jeremy Clarkson: That is a proud moment..but...there is a slope on it.
Richard Hammond: You are right...[pointing]...it is definitely higher on that side.
Jeremy Clarkson then narrates, over images of the bridge: we decide to ignore the slope and move onto the opening ceremony.
Ofcom received two complaints from viewers who expressed concern that the word slope referred to the Asian man crossing the bridge and was an offensive racist term.
Ofcom noted that the word slope is an offensive and pejorative term for a person of East Asian descent, which originated during the Vietnam War. [presumably alluding to slant eyes]
Ofcom considered Rule 2.3:
In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...Such material may include but is not limited to...discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds
The BBC stated that the programme:
Used the word in what the programme-makers believed was an inoffensive, humorous play on words, addressed at the build quality of a bridge which the team had constructed and a local Asian man who was crossing it.
The BBC added that although the programme-makers:
Knew that the word could be used to refer to people of Asian origin they believed that such use was mere slang. The programme-makers were not aware at the time that it had the potential to cause offence particularly in some countries outside the UK
And had they been aware of this, the word would not have been used in this context. The BBC stated that it had already issued a public statement apologising for the use of the word and for any offence which its use caused.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3
Ofcom acknowledges that slope is a term of offence more widely used in America and Australia. However it is also capable of causing offence in the UK particularly to people of Asian origin. Further, Ofcom research has indicated that viewers are
likely to consider a word to be more offensive if they understand it to be making a derogatory reference to specific characteristics of a defined ethnic group.
Ofcom therefore considered whether the broadcast of this offensive word was justified by the context. Top Gear is widely known for its irreverent style and sometimes outspoken humour, as well as the banter between the three presenters. We also noted that
regular viewers of Top Gear were likely to be aware that the programme had previously used national stereotypes as a comedic trope, particularly to describe the characteristics of cars. Various nationalities have, at some point, been the subject of the
presenters' mockery during the history of this long running programme. The regular audience for this programme adjusts its expectations accordingly.
In our view, however, in this case Jeremy Clarkson deliberately employed the offensive word to refer to the Asian person crossing the bridge as well as the camber of the bridge. Ofcom noted that this sequence was scripted in advance, and that clear
consideration was given at the time of production to using the term slope to formulate what the production team intended to be humorous word play around it. There was clearly an opportunity both during filming and post-production to research the
word and reach a more considered view on whether it was mere slang and had the potential to cause offence to viewers.
We took into account that the BBC said the programme makers intended the use of slope to be an inoffensive, humorous play on words , but that the broadcaster accepted now that the word was capable of causing offence in the UK and
apologised. We noted that the BBC provided no other arguments to justify the potential offence in the context.
Ofcom concluded, however, that in the circumstances of this particular case there was insufficient context to justify the broadcast of this material. The BBC did not apply generally accepted standards so as to provide adequate protection for members of
the public from offensive material. As a result there was a breach of Rule 2.3.
Statement regarding Top Gear filming in Argentina, October 2014 BBC Two Logo
We received complaints from viewers concerned by press reports that, while filming in Argentina, Top Gear had apparently used cars with provocative registration plates.
We consulted the programme makers who would like to assure viewers that this was an unfortunate coincidence and the cars were neither chosen for their registration plates, nor were new registration plates substituted for the originals.
The crew of BBC's Top Gear have left Argentina after facing protests over a number plate which appeared to refer to the 1982 Falklands War.
The team, including host Jeremy Clarkson, have been filming in South America for a Top Gear special.
The show apparently provoked anger among locals by using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL.
Argentina's ambassador to Britain has demanded an apology from the BBC over a joke by car show Top Gear . The Argentine embassy in London said Ambassador Alicia Castro had complained to the BBC about:
Clarkson's provocative behaviour and offensive remarks toward the government and the Argentine peopley. Furthermore, the Argentine ambassador deeply regretted Jeremy Clarkson's entirely false accusations of alleged resentment against British citizens in
The programme's crew had to leave Argentina hastily last month after they faced violent protests for driving a car with licence plate H982 FK, interpreted by some as a reference to the country's 1982 war with Britain over the disputed Falkland Islands.
Host Jeremy Clarkson has accused Argentine officials of whipping up anger for political capital.
The BBC said it would follow its usual complaint procedures.
The BBC has rejected a demand by the Argentinian ambassador to apologise for Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear levity, saying the BBC2 special will be broadcast as planned.
Danny Cohen, the BBC's director of television, said there was no evidence to support the allegation that the number plate on Clarkson's Porsche, H982 FKL, was a deliberate reference to the Falklands war. Cohen said in a letter to the ambassador:
The BBC was disturbed by the violence the team faced during their visit and I know we are agreed that this violence should not be condoned.
I am very aware that some have questioned whether the number plates were in some way a prank. I would like to reassure you again that nothing we have seen or read since the team returned supports the view that this was a deliberate act.
A few easily offended Argentines got wound up by a joke during the filming a Top Gear special.
Locals took offence at the H982 FKL number plate on a Porsche driven by Jeremy Clarkson, believing it was a reference to the 1982 Falklands conflict.
Argentina's ambassador to the UK, Alicia Castro, complained about the joke but the complaint was turned down by the BBC. Now she has resumed her torade against the joke by writing to the BBC Trust expressing discontent with how the number plate
fiasco was handled. She claimed Clarkson's behaviour fell well below BBC's editorial values and standards and called for a fresh investigation.
In an interview with the Radio Times Richard Hammond said:
In society as a whole, we love to be offended and have a scapegoat. But at Top Gear we're the first to put our hands up and say we pitched it wrong. We have apologised. We're not in the business of genuinely upsetting or offending anyone. We're in the
business of entertainment, and if it fails to entertain, it's wrong. If the public says we stepped over the line, then we have.
On 2 February 2014 Top Gear broadcast an item comparing hatchback cars from the 1980s with their modern equivalent. The presenters each chose a car. Richard Hammond's choice was a Vauxhall Nova, which the other two presenters felt was inferior to their
cars and comments were made about this in relation to Richard Hammond's lack of style. When they arrived at the motor circuit to race their cars, Jeremy Clarkson stated:
We arrived at the terrifying Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb. Germany has the Nurburgring, America has Pikes Peak, we have this. It's more than half a mile long and at the bottom of this fearsome river of tarmac we were given more details of our challenge.
Sometime later, after the other two presenters had completed the circuit, a voice-over from James May said As I pondered on that, Jeremy prepared the course for Hammond's Nova. Jeremy Clarkson was then seen putting up a placard on a wooden hut on
which Pikey's Peak was written. Richard Hammond was then shown driving his car up to the start line.
The initial complaint stated that the sign had no relevance to the programme and was:
Grossly offensive and racist to a minority community, the Gypsy Traveller community. They are one of the 9 protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010 and do not deserve to be treated like this, especially not on national TV.
The complaint was escalated through the full and long BBC complaints procedure until reaching the rarely achieved appeal to the BBC Trust, who concluded:
The Appeal Committee wish to state that it had carefully considered the case made by the complainants and the information they provided, and had accepted that the word pikey did have the potential to be deeply offensive to the Gypsy and Traveller
communities, most notably when specifically attributing negative characteristics to these minority groups. The Committee was also mindful that some words, including pikey , can be used in an abusive context. The Committee therefore advised
programme makers to bear in mind the potential for offence this word may have in some circumstances and advised extreme care and sensitivity when employing it in programming. Although the Committee accepted that the word pikey has evolved to have
a meaning distinct from the Gypsy and Traveller communities, it nevertheless advises considerable caution in its use.
Finally the Committee noted that the complainants wanted the Editorial Guidelines to directly address the possible dual usage of the word pikey . The Committee considered that this was not necessary because the Editorial Guidelines were
Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear colleagues deliberately entered Argentina with a Falklands-referenced number plate, a judge has whinged. Maria Cristina Barrionuevo rejected claims by the BBC and the presenter that the use of the plate H982 FKL on
Clarkson's Porsche was an unfortunate coincidence . She also described the decision to drive through southern Argentina with the vehicle as arrogant and disrespectful .
The judge, based in the southern city of Ushuaia, where the trouble occurred last October, also ruled that the Porsche's number plate had been changed after the vehicle entered Argentina's southernmost tip of Patagonia. This is an offence that can lead
to a conviction for falsification and carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
Local prosecutor Daniel Curtale had asked the judge to open a criminal investigation for alleged falsification. However, Mrs Barrionuevo rejected this call, concluding programme chiefs had acted to avert more conflict. The prosecutors are
understood to be preparing an appeal.
The judge concluded that the Top Gear team had not acted in bad faith in changing the plates and their hand was forced by massive government and popular pressure .
Travellers have complained about Ofcom's decision to clear the BBC after Jeremy Clarkson was shown on an episode of Top Gear with a sign reading Pikey's Peak .
The Traveller Movement are 'outraged' that the communications regulator has green-lit the use of the word pikey and claim it is a victory for racist bullies .
A Traveller Movement spokesman told the Guardian:
We are appalled that Ofcom have followed the BBC Trust's line and have green-lit the use of 'pikey' on Top Gear.
Their decision that this particular use has no reference to Gypsies and Travellers is bankrupt.
The viewing public are not that stupid and Ofcom need to give them more credit. The decision is a victory for racist bullies and we will be meeting with our solicitors, Howe & Co, to consider our options.
An Ofcom spokesman said:
Following thorough investigation we found this programme did not break broadcasting rules by showing a placard which said 'Pikey's Peak'.
We found that, while some in the audience would perceive the word pikey as a derogatory term for Gypsies and Travellers, on balance there was sufficient context in the way the word was used to minimise offence.
However, we have advised broadcasters this doesn't mean the use of the word is acceptable in any programme in any context and that it is capable of causing significant offence in certain contexts.
Ofcom did not rely on the BBC Trust's findings in reaching its decision. As the UK's broadcast regulator, our team investigated this programme completely afresh and reached an independent decision.
It is Ofcom's view that the broadcaster ensured there was sufficient context in the way the word was used to minimise offence and therefore that the use of the word in the context of this programme was not in breach of [...] the Code.
Last April an Argentinain judge had put a stop tp attempts to have the former BBC presenter< Jeremy Clarkson charged with falsification over a Falklands referencing number-plate on the Porsche he drove for a tour of the country.
But state prosecutors appealed the judges decision not to press ahead with a full-scale criminal investigation against Clarkson and his ex- Top Gear team. And now three appeal judges sided with prosecutors and ordered the reactivation of the case.
Prosecutors are avenging the joke by claiming the Top Gear team committed a crime under article 289 of the Argentinian Penal Code which carries a prison sentence of between six months and three years for those who falsify, alter or suppress the number
of an object registered in accordance with the law.
However it is relevant to note that although the UK has an extradition treaty with Argentina, British courts have blocked recent requests over human rights concerns.
Amazon Prime Video has just launched in India, and have started on the wrong foot by censoring 30 minutes from an episode of The Grand Tour.
The fourth episode of The Grand Tour is listed as only 30 minutes in India, as opposed to the normal one hour. That's so that all references to a car made of meat could be excised from the show. It seems that India is a little meat sensitive for
It is reported that Amazon have made frequent recourse to blurring to censor more straightforward censorship issues such as nudity and other sexual content. Amazon are also quick to reach for the annoying bleep button when strong language is in the air.
The Amazon self censorship is a little confusing as this week, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting clarified that it has no plans to censor online streaming services.