Entertainment Television

Tuesday 23 September 2014

BBC backs Clarkson in new race complaint

Ian Burrell

Published 29/07/2014 | 02:30

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The BBC insisted it will stand by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson (C) after he was reprimanded by broadcasting regulator Ofcom for racial comments
The BBC insisted it will stand by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson (C) after he was reprimanded by broadcasting regulator Ofcom for racial comments

THE BBC insisted it would stand by Jeremy Clarkson after he was reprimanded by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom for yet another racial comment – this time referring to an Asian man as a "slope" during a Top Gear Burma special.

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The watchdog found that the money-spinning BBC2 show had breached broadcasting rules and that the "pejorative racial term" had been scripted in advance and was regarded as "humorous" by the production team.

The ruling comes months after Clarkson was heard to use the N-word when reciting the rhyme "Eeny, meeny miny moe ... " during a clip that was never broadcast. Clarkson issued a video statement saying he was "mortified" by the footage. He has also outraged the Indian High Commission and the Mexican Ambassador with mocking comments about the cultures of those countries.

But the BBC made it clear that Ofcom's latest finding will not threaten Clarkson's future with the organisation. "We dealt with this matter some time ago, the programme apologised at the time and explained the context, and we are now focusing on delivering another series of one of Britain's best-loved shows," it said. Clarkson used the word "slope" in a play on words about a makeshift bridge that the programme had constructed across the River Kwai in Thailand.

As an Asian man walked towards him, the presenter looked at the bridge and said: "That is a proud moment . . . but . . . there is a slope on it."

Ofcom received two complaints that the expression was racist and offensive. The watchdog took the view that "the word 'slope' is an offensive and pejorative term for a person of East Asian descent, which originated during the Vietnam War".

But Top Gear's programme makers claimed they thought the term amounted to "mere slang".

They said they were not aware the word had "the potential to cause offence particularly in some countries outside the UK".

The BBC also reminded Ofcom that Andy Wilman, the long-standing executive producer of Top Gear, had already issued a public statement apologising for any offence caused to viewers by the programme, which was broadcast in March.

"When we used the word 'slope' it was a light-hearted word-play joke," said the statement. (© Independent News Service)

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