Time to slam the brakes on politically correct spin, and park Jezza-bashing
Dropping the N-bomb has left Jeremy Clarkson fighting to save his career, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
Owing to my total lack of interest in vehicular issues, I've never watched more than a YouTube clip of Top Gear, but though I know he's an overgrown schoolboy, I have a slightly soft spot for Jeremy Clarkson. In the long-drawn-out war between him and Piers Morgan, Clarkson may be silly, but unlike Morgan, he's never sanctimonious. If Clarkson's the cheeky boy throwing ink pellets around and drawing rude cartoons of the teacher, Morgan's the sneak who's telling on him as part of his campaign to become head boy.
Take the row about the clips of Clarkson swinging a finger between two cars and reciting some of the nursery rhyme: "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe". What was aired in February 2013 had him reciting as the following line: "Catch a teacher by his toe." What the left-wing Daily Mirror, which Morgan once edited, got hold of for a shock-horror story headlined 'Clarkson's n-word shame', was an unused clip showing him mumbling what on close examination probably was "Catch a nigger by his toe", the version imported from America that would still have been around in Clarkson's childhood.
Clarkson first denied using the word and then, after viewing, agreed he probably had. In the filmed apology forced out of him by BBC top brass, he read from a note he had sent at the time to the production office saying: "I didn't use the n-word here but I've just listened through my headphones and it sounds like I did. Is there another take that we could use?" He loathed the word, he explained, and begged forgiveness for having said it inadvertently in a clip no one was ever supposed to see.