JEREMY Clarkson may have dented the reputation of Top Gear in Australia after saying to a group of photographers gathered in Sydney harbour: “You can take them out of England but you can’t take the convict out of them.”
Clarkson fired the comment at a group of paparazzi who were trying to get a shot of the Top Gear frontman as he walked to dinner at Otto restaurant with former girlfriend beautician Phillipa Sage.
A previously unidentified man who appeared to be among those dining with Clarkson then shouted at the assembled press pack: “You’re the reason we won’t come back to Australia!”
The man was later identified as James Cooke-Priest, CEO of Top Gear Live, a spin-off of the hit BBC show which claims on its website “creates LIVE events in the spirit of Top Gear all over the world.”
He told the crowd of press: “We don’t like paps. I can tell you’ve got your phones ready to film, we just want to have a quiet dinner.”
Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman was forced to make a statement this morning defending the show’s reputation, claiming he was “absolutely furious” by the comments.
He said: “I would like to address the matter of the comment made by a man in Sydney Harbour, stating that Top Gear would never be coming back to Australia.
“That comment was made by a halfwit who has absolutely nothing to do with the TV show, and nor is he a spokesman for Jeremy or any of the other presenters. He had no right to make any comment in relation to the show, and his remarks most certainly do not reflect our views in any way.”
Clarkson meanwhile appeared shaken up by the event, prompting him to forget what country he was in: “So I had a conversation last night about how I would never go back to Austria. And NOW look what’s happened,” he tweeted.
The Top Gear presenter was in Sydney with James May to film a segment for the show at Sydney’s Easter Creek racetrack.