The One Show issued an on-air apology last night after Jeremy Clarkson made a number of inflammatory comments about public sector workers who chose to strike.
When asked his thoughts on the day's industrial action, the Top Gear presenter said: "I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. I mean how dare they go on strike when they have these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed, while the rest of us have to work for a living."
Later in the programme, the 51-year-old continued to court controversy with comments about public transport, stating: "I do sometimes use the train to come to London but it always stops in Reading. It's always because somebody has jumped in front of it and somebody has burst.
"You just think, why have we stopped because we've hit somebody? What's the point of stopping? It won't make them better."
The presenter's comments immediately sparked criticism on Twitter, where Clarkson's name shot to the top of the trending chart as a number of high-profile commentators entered the debate.
CNN host Piers Morgan said: "'Public sector workers should be executed in front of their families' - Jeremy Clarkson, paid millions by public sector/taxpayer #OneShow".
John Prescott tweeted: "I know Jeremy Clarkson likes winding people up, but it's worth pointing out he gets £1m a year from the license (sic) fee/public sector."
Author Tony Parsons added: "Jeremy Clarkson has misjudged the moment. Criticising striking public sector workers today is like sieg-heiling at Last Night of the Proms."
Labour's shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, Jon Trickett, later said: "No one wants these strikes but most of today's strikers are mums, not militants.
"Clarkson should apologise. And the prime minister should make clear he disassociates himself from the distasteful remarks uttered by one of his friends."
At the end of The One Show Matt Baker issued an on-air apology, stating: "Although we enjoy Jeremy's views, which he sometimes exaggerates for comical effect, we are seriously sorry if his comments about deaths on the railways has upset anyone."
The BBC said in a further statement: "The One Show apologised at the end of the show to viewers who may have been offended by Jeremy Clarkson's comments."