'Top Gear' host gets final warning over racism row

Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson
Television presenter Jeremy Clarkson said he had received a final warning from Britain's publicly-funded broadcaster, the BBC, over using racist language while filming "Top Gear", one of the world's most popular TV programmes.

Clarkson, 54, was called before BBC bosses this week after the Mirror newspaper reported he was heard using the word "nigger" as he recited an old version of the rhyme "Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe" to choose between cars in filming two years ago.

The newspaper did not say how it got hold of the footage, which was not aired, but the revelation led to calls for Clarkson to resign or be sacked from the BBC, which is funded by a licence fee paid by all UK households who own a television.

The presenter, known for his humorous but blunt style, apologised in a video on Twitter on Thursday, saying he tried to avoid the racist expression by mumbling over that part of the rhyme in two takes and replacing it with "teacher" in a third.

But in a regular column in the Sun newspaper on Saturday, Clarkson admitted he was on his final warning from the BBC after the latest controversy to hit the outspoken but highly profitable presenter.

"I've been told by the BBC that if I make one more offensive, remark, anywhere, at ay time, I will be sacked," wrote Clarkson, insisting he had not used the 'n' word that he found "extremely distasteful".

"It's funny. I've always thought I'd be sacked for something I said. Not for something that actually, I didn't say."

SERIES OF CONTROVERSIES

The furore comes just days after Top Gear producers apologised for a "light-hearted" joke by Clarkson in Myanmar and Thailand in which he referred to a "slope" on a bridge as an Asian man crossed a makeshift structure built by the presenters.

The show prompted complaints of racism and producer Andy Wilman apologised, saying they were unaware it was a racially offensive term for Asians used in countries like Australia and the United States and regretted any offense caused.

The BBC has regularly downplayed controversies over Clarkson's comments through the 26-year history of Top Gear, one of its best-selling shows which has aired in 214 countries, helping make Clarkson, a journalist by background, into a global celebrity.

Top Gear was named by Guinness World Records as the world's most widely watched factual TV programme in 2013 and its popularity has led to spin-offs including video games and a magazine.

But Clarkson's strong views have pitched him up against politicians, national governments, environmental groups, car companies and communities across Britain over the years. Facebook has an "I Hate Jeremy Clarkson" page.

A BBC statement on Thursday said the corporation had spoken to Clarkson and made "absolutely clear" the standards expected.

"We have left him in no doubt about how seriously we view this," said the statement.

A BBC spokesman said on Saturday the corporation had nothing to add beyond this statement. The BBC declined to say how much Clarkson makes or how much Top Gear earns.

Good chance

Ign: Up until late 79 I was a bike nut (and still am) and would often be seen one wheeling it here, there and everywhere on a yellow Suzuki. My grandfather, a well known and respected Ford mechanic of the day, found me my first car about 1979, a pristine white Mk3 Zephyr. Yeah, i was a Zepher boy but there was not much that could beat its 70mph up the Stuart St extension unless it was V8 powered. The Holden and Falcon sixes of the day could not compete with their 3 speed boxes.
Said Zephyr would often be seen backed up the sand dunes at Beachlands on Sundays. Then there was the inevitable race home. I learnt a valuable lesson of not lending your car when a mate bought it back one day smashed all down one side but he broke it so he brought it.
Then followed a Mk4 Zephyr, metallic blue with wide rims, CVhev V8 and 4 speed floor change Zodiac box and a HK Monaro, metallic green with a gold stripe, 308 and a 4 speed muncie box. Can't forget the dice hanging in the side window. Lol
The next was the Ford that put me off Fords for life. A bright orange XB GS Fairmont. Two door with a 302 and auto and wind out sunroof. Great looker but such a dog when cold. A couple of red E49 R/T Chargers, a Hemi Orange Vh Pacer and many rotaries followed. Many in car circles will likely remember one of the E49's burnt out in Mornington about 1990. If only i had the hindsight to keep them, id be a rich man today.
4wd turbos came and went but couldn't bring myself to part with my 308 commy so if you have a hot cam for that, i will take that bet. 

Good old days

I too remember the good ol' days. Sitting in the Octagon at 1am behind the wheel of my big rumbaing Chevy with a few good mates, talking about the things that matter at the time, with a couple of crates of man-sized bottles of Double Brown sitting on the back seat, my lady sitting beside me. Listening to Billy Idol, Queen, Wasp, Midnight Oil, Ozzie, etc. The good ol' days when your wage was a lot lower but you could afford much more then you can today.

Well those days have gone, but the lady who sat beside me is now my wife and my mates who sit beside me are now my sons, and there are still a few of my ol' time mates. The Chevy is gone, but there is still a V8 sitting up my drive and a project car for my boys and I. There are days when i miss those good old days and I could spend hours talking with my boys about the things iIused to do. I'm a big fan of Top Gear and watch it when I can. It reminds me of younger days and gives me something to smile about when the pressures of work and paying the bills press down on me, as they sometimes do.

Speedfreak43, I will bet you a 3 stage cam for a 455 blue printed big block that we sat in the Octagon on a few Friday and Saturdays at the same time in our cars. We may have even shared a bottle or two and may have partied up at the old cemetery.

And how's that for manners

Albert, I didn't even do a Clarkson retort to the Citroen comment. But, he's certainly lasted longer at the BBC than i would likely have. We are a lot alike in our tell it like we see it attitude although i just don't have the same restraint he has. Or should that be, he has to have, in the eyes of the BBC anyway.

Ah Yes, Big Daddies

Best feed in the Octagon in the late hours. Lol. Where all those with a skin full would grab a feed prior to falling into a cab on the rank outside. With Big Norm with his big hair behind the counter and a flat 3 or 4 floors above where we had a commanding view of proceedings below from our perch on the fire escape.

Good times indeed. 

Clever stunts

Yes, I drove down the Octagon wrong way in good faith, right past 'Big Daddies', whoever they were. As late as 1978, we jumped on running boards to board a Citroen in motion.

Entertainment value

The entertainment value comes from his often sarcastic and obnoxious remarks and the fact he gets to drive hard, vehicles most of us can only dream of.

Granted, it's not as much fun as doing it yourself but the fun police put a stop to us rounding the Octagon sideways, going the wrong way round, years ago.

I have fond memories (70's and early 80's) of cruising our once smooth main drag then parking up in the upper Octagon (until all hours of the morning) with many other V8's and drinking beer out of man size bottles.

There's plenty to be said of the good ole days when life was simple, fun and unregulated. I certainly do not recall much trouble like the violence and beatings experienced these days. The youth of today don't know what they missed out on.

Socialised Boy Racer

I agree. Word is JC did several takes, but they chose that one. Call me a Foxton Straight, and many do, but I don't see the entertainment value of wheelies and burning up gas on the telly.

Political correctness gone mad

I will take the historically correct version over the politically correct version anytime.

I would suggest that the BBC are covering their butts from any backlash as they would be stupid to can their best show.

Let's face it, JC is loved for his blunt and brutally honest views of whatever he is talking about, and long may it continue. 

[Abridged]