Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has admitted that he "did appear" to use the n-word while filming an item for the BBC2 series two years ago, following an accusation in a report by the Daily Mirror which quoted unused footage from the show.
Clarkson said he had been "extremely keen to avoid" the word when reciting the rhyme "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" and was "mortified" and "horrified" when he listened back to a recording in which he appeared to use it.
Speaking in a video message posted on Twitter, Clarkson explained that immediately after reviewing the rushes for the item, he had sent a note to the Top Gear production office asking them not to use the offending take.
"It is a word I loathe, and I did everything in my power to make sure that that version did not appear in the programme that was transmitted," he said.
He concluded the message by asking viewers for their forgiveness: "Please be assured that I did everything in my power to not use that word. And I’m sitting here begging your forgiveness for the fact that, obviously, my efforts weren’t quite good enough. Thank you."
Watch Clarkson's video message below.
The allegations come weeks after executive producer Andy Wilman expressed regret over a remark made by Clarkson on the show's Burma special shown in March.
During the programme, Clarkson and co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May built a bridge over the river Kwai in Thailand. As an Asian man was seen walking along the bridge, Clarkson said: "That is a proud moment, but there's a slope on it." The word slope is understood to be a racially derogatory term in some countries, notably the USA and Australia.
Wilman said the word "might not be widely recognised in the UK" but "we appreciate that it can be considered offensive to some here and overseas for example in Australia and the USA".
He added: "If we had known that at the time we would not have broadcast the word in this context and regret any offence caused."