Top Gear under investigation by BBC

22:34, Aug 06 2014

The behaviour of controversial Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has sparked an internal investigation into the BBC show.

Clarkson was put on his final warning by the BBC in May after unseen footage emerged in which he allegedly used the n-word.

A review of Top Gear's culture and practices was subsequently ordered by the BBC's director of television Danny Cohen, The Guardian reported.

It was understood workers on the show were asked if they thought the programme was racist, and whether there was a culture of people being afraid to speak out when they found things offensive.

The investigation also explored whether there had been a breakdown in the relationship between the show's producers and BBC management.

The review had come as a compromise, as Cohen had wanted to sack Clarkson immediately after the n-word incident, while director general Tony Hall did not, The Guardian reported.

There were also concerns from bosses about whether Clarkson and others on the show recognised the conduct expected of them as BBC stars.

Clarkson is known for his mean-minded and borderline-racist insults, which until now have been downplayed by the BBC.

In March, Indian-born, London-based actress Somi Guha instructed lawyers to take action after Clarkson used the word "slope", a derogatory term for people of Asian descent, during the BBC show's Burma-based series finale.

The offending word came after Clarkson, and co-stars Richard Hammond and James May, built a bridge over a river in Thailand, and commented while a man was walking across it that there was a "slope" on it.


In 2007 he attracted flak for not only calling the Malaysian-manufactured Perodua Kelisa the "worst car in the world", but suggesting that it had been built by "jungle people who wear leaves as shoes".

In 2005 he gave a Nazi salute while reviewing a car from the German company BMW, and said the vehicle's satellite-navigation "only goes to Poland" - the 1939 German invasion of Poland triggered World War II.

While filming in India in 2011 he drove through slums in a Jaguar fitted with a wooden-seated toilet in the boot, which he said was "perfect for India, because everyone who comes here gets the trots".

Also in 2011, Hammond was discussing a Mexican sports car and suggested vehicles reflect the national characteristics of the country they were from.

"Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat," Hammond said.

Clarkson claimed Mexico's ambassador to the UK would not complain because he would be snoring in front of his embassy television. The ambassador did end up making a formal complaint.

The BBC's investigation was thought to have started in June and gone on for four to six weeks.

The broadcaster would not reveal the findings of the report and refused to comment to The Guardian.