Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has broken ranks with Palmerston North's most reviled detractor to deliver a rare tick of approval to the Turbo City.
Opting not to retrace the footsteps of former Monty Python front-man and fellow Briton John Cleese, Clarkson has heaped praise upon Palmerston North in a column for a London newspaper.
Although the onus is with readers to decide whether the notoriously blunt car-enthusiast's verdict might perhaps be tongue-in -cheek.
Clarkson, who has referred to Mexicans as ''lazy, feckless, flatulent" oafs, given a Nazi salute in an episode about BMWs, and labelled Australians "convicts", waxed lyrical about New Zealand in his column in today's London Sunday Times.
Perhaps the most startling compliment, however, was Clarkson's claim that if God had got it right, ''Jesus would have been from Palmerston North.''
Destination Manawatu chief Lance Bickford had no argument with Clarkson's flattery.
''I thought Jesus was born in Palmerston North,'' he responded.
Following his recent visit to New Zealand to film an episode of his BBC motoring show, Clarkson gushed over ''absolutely stunning; bite-the-back-of-your-hand-to-stop-yourself-from-crying-out lovely'' New Zealand.
But it was Clarkson's praise for Palmerston North which placed his views at stark odds to that of fellow Briton and comedian John Cleese, who found eternal enmity in Palmerston North when he said the city should be renamed ''suicide capital of New Zealand'' because ''if you wish to kill yourself but lack the courage to, I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick''.
Palmerston North had presented easy target for visiting personalities in the past but Clarkson had proven he had good taste, Mr Bickford said.
''We have to take it all in a bit of humour, I think. I don't know what else he said about New Zealand but I know he likes the place. He's been to Palmerston North before and he's not afraid of taking a slap at other countries, so it can only be a good thing.''
- Manawatu Standard
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