BBC bosses order Top Gear to delete offensive "slope" comment from future broadcasts

The Corporation's Director of Television Danny Cohen made the decision and was also personally involved in drafting the statement apologising for the remark by the presenter, RadioTimes.com understands

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BBC bosses order Top Gear to delete offensive "slope" comment from future broadcasts
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Terry Payne

BBC Director of Television Danny Cohen has insisted that a scene from Top Gear in which Jeremy Clarkson uses a racially offensive term be deleted from the episode, RadioTimes.com understands.

The sequence has already been cut from the programme ahead of broadcasts in Australia and America and will not appear in any repeats shown in the UK or in worldwide transmissions.

Cohen was also personally involved in drafting the statement apologising for the comment, having reviewed all of the contentious content and spoken to Clarkson, his co-host Richard Hammond and Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman.

However, the BBC has declined to say whether any member of the Top Gear team has been disciplined as a result of the inquiry into complaints of racism by Jeremy Clarkson.

A demand from law firm Equal Justice that Clarkson be disciplined has failed to draw a reaction from the BBC. “That is not something we would comment on,” said a spokeswoman.

Last night, the Corporation issued a statement expressing regret that some viewers had been offended by Clarkson’s use of the word “slope” as an Asian man was seen crossing a bridge that the three Top Gear presenters had just built for their end-of-series Burma special.

The statement, posted on the BBC’s website, said Clarkson had used the term as a “light-hearted word play joke” without realising it was considered as inflammatory by some.

Broadcast in March, the now controversial episode, saw the three presenters building a makeshift bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand.

As an Asian man was seen walking across it Clarkson remarks: “That is a proud moment – but there’s a slope on it.” Hammond replies: “You’re right, it’s definitely higher on that side.”

The complaint from Equal Justice produced an internal inquiry and last night’s statement, issued in the name of executive producer Wilman:

"When we used the word ‘slope’ in the recent Top Gear Burma Special it was a light-hearted word play joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing it.

"We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word ‘slope’ is considered by some to be offensive and although it might not be widely recognised in the UK, we appreciate that it can be considered offensive to some here and overseas, for example in Australia and the USA.

"If we had known that at the time we would not have broadcast the word in this context and regret any offence caused."

This morning the BBC said it had received a total of 28 complaints about Clarkson’s language. That compares to the 3,000 or so received in 2011 after Richard Hammond made a joke about “lazy, feckless, flatulent” Mexicans.


 


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