Monday 23 October 2017

Jeremy Clarkson puts his foot in it again with 'facial growth' jibe on BBC

Jeremy Clarkson. Photo: PA
Jeremy Clarkson. Photo: PA

James Hall

A DISFIGUREMENT charity 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 broadcast last Sunday, Mr 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 charity Changing Faces, said that Mr 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 Mr Partridge.

The charity has written a letter of complaint to Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, and the BBC, which has received 55 complaints about the broadcast.

Mark Boylan, who has a condition called neurofibromatosis, which causes large tumours to grow on the face, said: “As a genuine Top Gear fan, I was gutted the presenters felt the need to stoop to such a level. Their humour singled out people who are visually different.

“Even though we may be in the minority, our right to respect is equal to that of any majority.”

The show was repeated last night on BBC 2.

It is the fourth time in recent months that Mr Clarkson has attracted controversy.

At the end of December he was accused of offensive behavior after mocking Indian culture in a Top Gear Christmas special.

Viewers complained to the BBC after he made a series of controversial remarks about the country’s clothing, trains, food and history.

At one point he appeared to make light of the lack of sanitation for poor residents by driving around slums in a Jaguar fitted with a toilet.

Last November Mr Clarkson upset public sector workers when he said that those going on strike “should be shot” while their families watched.

The remarks led to more than 21,000 complaints to the BBC and almost 800 to watchdog Ofcom, which launched an investigation.

Earlier this year the presenter was criticised for making comments about the Morecambe Bay cockle picking tragedy in which 23 Chinese migrant workers died.

A BBC spokesman said that there were no plans to edit Mr Clarkson's comments about growths out of the show, but declined to comment further.

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