Top Gear and the Grand Tour

Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

4th November

Jeremy Clarkson Raises His Game...

Lorry drivers...the new easily offended?

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 disgraceful comments.

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.


5th November

Update: For Truck's Sake...It's Only a Joke...

Jeremy Clarkson humour for the 21st century

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 shockingly sensible.

Based on article from

Ofcom clears Clarkson over jibe that truck drivers murder prostitutes . TV censor Ofcom has said it is not planning to investigate complaints about Jeremy Clarkson's joke.


7th November

Update: Nutter Mole...

Chris Mole MP seeks sacking of Jeremy Clarkson

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 immediate action.


12th November

Update: Clarkson Given the Finger...

Whingers quick to fire off complaints about Top Gear

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has angered a few easily offended nutters by making a rude gesture to a policeman on TV.

He was seen holding up a middle finger twice while talking to a US patrolman. Clarkson was telling him they were not fooling but making a documentary.

Afterwards he clearly thought it was hilarious that he had got away with the gesture by making out he was showing the officer what others had signalled to him.

Media Watch UK said: Clarkson must like the publicity and obviously thinks he's untouchable.

The BBC said nobody had complained but Ofcom confirmed: We received complaints about the Top Gear programme shown on Sunday, November 9. These will be assessed.


9th December

Update: TopGeezer...

TV censor ok with Jeremy Clarkson's lorry driver jokes

Top Gear
BBC Two, 2 November 2008, 20:00

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).

Ofcom Decision

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.

Not in Breach


7th February

Update: Down Under the Belt...

Jeremy Clarkson apologises for calling Gordon Brown an idiot

  At least he didn't call me fat!

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.


8th February

Update: Still an Idiot...

Jeremy Clarkson explains his apology

  At least he didn't call me fat!

Jeremy Clarkson watered down his apology yesterday for calling Prime Minister Gordon Brown a one-eyed Scottish idiot – saying he was not sorry for the idiot bit.

Speaking to The Sun, in which he writes a weekly column, he said: I very specifically apologised for making fun of his personal appearance – very specifically.

I have nothing against the Scottish and of course I regret making any remark that might have upset the disabled. But the idiot bit – there is no chance I'll apologise for that.

The BBC said it would be taking no further action against Clarkson.


1st May

Update: Fitzpatrick on Speed...

Media and Jeremy Clarkson blamed for speeding

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.


24th June

Update: Scouts Unprepared for a Jeremy Clarkson Quip...

Scouts join the ranks of the easily offended

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.


6th August

Update: Close to Home...

Jeremy Clarkson spoof car advert winds up a few whingers

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


12th November

Update: Bloody Top Gear...

Ofcom whinges at Top Gear spoof car adverts

Top Gear
BBC2, 2 August 2009, 20:00

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 appear.

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


24th November

Update: Romania Easily Offended...

Romania whinges at top gear for Borat and gypsies reference

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.


28th October

Updated: The Speciale Needs of the Easily Offended...

More whinges at Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear

Top Gear
BBC2, 1 August 2010, 21:30

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 James May.

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 Decision

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 difficulty.

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

28th October 2010. See  article from by David Quantick

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.

...Read the full article


30th December

Comment: Stig in a Manger...

Top Gear have fun with religion

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.


11th February

Update: Top Gear Top Notch Mexican Offence...

Lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, and easily offended

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 .

Update: Too Close to Home for Comfort

11th February 2011. See  article from

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


14th February

Update: Complaints Department in Overdrive...

BBC response to complaints about Mexican jokes during Top Gear

Top Gear, comments about Mexicans

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.


13th April

Update: Refried Whinges...

Ofcom OK with Top Gear's Mexico jokes

Top Gear
BBC2, 30 January 2011, 20:00

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.


24th June

Update: Lazy, Feckless and Flatulent Censors...

BBC upholds complaints of quips about Mexicans on Top Gear
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 car.

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.

Complaints upheld.

Further action:

BBC Vision discussed the reasons for, and the issues arising from, the finding with the production team.


2nd December

Updated: Jeremy Clarkson Causes 'Outrage' Again...

Well... at least a couple of tweets anyway

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

2nd December 2011. See  article from

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 that.

Update: Well...the odd 20,000 or so

2nd December 2011. See article from

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.

I think he would enjoy that.


5th December

Update: Striking Back...

BBC issues a response to complaints about Jeremy Clarkson's strike joke and a nutter MP tries to invoke a parliamentary rebuke

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.


6th December

Update: A Top Notch Performance...

Clarkson successfully winds up 31,000 easily offended whingers

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.

Clarkson Powered Up

See article from

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.


10th December

Update: Pandering to Nutters...

BBC postpones Stephen Fry's QI lest nutters are offended by the rapid reappearance of Jeremy Clarkson

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 .


14th December

Update: Committee of Miserable Culture...

BBC director general defends Jeremy Clarkson from parliamentary calls for his sacking

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.


31st December

Update: Bravo!...

Top Gear Christmas Special winds up Keith Vaz

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.

This excellently wound up the parliamentary nutter Keith Vaz. Vaz, whose parents are from India, said:

Clarkson and the BBC should be ashamed for broadcasting gags about the nation.

Mr Clarkson needs to stick to talking about cars, not cultures.

And he should apologise for his lack of taste. He and the BBC have done India a great disservice with this programme.

Some of the contents of the programme are clearly offensive and not the least bit funny. They were completely pointless.

Mr Clarkson is not a comedian. He talks about his cars and that is why he gets on the show.

Why do him and the BBC bother putting this out?

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.

The BBC confirmed they had received 23 complaints about the show, all about racial issues. A spokesman said there were no plans for Clarkson or the BBC to apologise.


8th January

Update: Muddying the Waters...

Chinese Embassy accuses Jeremy Clarkson of woeful disrespect of decency and moral standards

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.


21st January

Updated: Mission Accomplished...

Indian High Commission complains to the BBC over the TOP Gear Christmas Special

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 .

Update: BBC Response

18th January 2012. See  article from


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

21st January 2012. See  article from

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.

...Read the full article


10th February

Update: Top Gear Viewing Figures Inflated by 1000's of Journalists?...

Now Jeremy Clarkson develops an arse like growth over his mouth

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.


15th February

 Offsite Article: Top Gear still won't put a brake on swearing... and it's driving viewers up the wall...

Daily Mail has a knock at strong language on post watershed Top Gear citing a few vaguely annoyed tweets

See article from


21st February

Ofcom Firing Squad Stands Down...

Ofcom clear Jeremy Clarkson's joke about shooting striking civil servants

Jeremy Clarkson on the One Show, BBC1

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.


17th March

Update: Jesus Wept!...

BBC tell vicar that religious exclamations are part of everyday language

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 and context.

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.


6th May

 Offsite Article: Discriminating Queue Jumpers from the Queue Fodder...

Telegraph sniffing at Jeremy Clarkson's Heathrow queue comments in the hope of some nutter 'outrage'

See article from


9th May

Update: A Mere Pimple...

Ofcom dismiss complaints about a Jeremy Clarkson quip about the Elephant Man
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.



Update: Jeremy Clarkson vs Elephantine Political Correctness...

BBC's Editorial Standards Committee upholds complaint about Top Gear making references to Elephant Man

Link Here 2nd October 2012
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Top Gear
BBC One, 5 February 2012, 8pm

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 design.

  • 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 disability.

  • 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.

The complaint was upheld




Mini Outrage...

Tabloid nonsense trying to raise a little 'outrage' over a top Gear gag about caravaners and dogging

Link Here 30th July 2013
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers