Top Gear’s “tasteless antics” in India prompt demand for apology

Diplomats criticise Jeremy Clarkson's jokes and stunts featured in the Christmas special

The BBC has come under fire from the Indian High Commission after Jeremy Clarkson’s “tasteless” antics in the Top Gear Christmas special.


Diplomats are demanding an apology from the broadcaster after the 90-minute episode, which featured Clarkson making numerous jokes about Indian culture and history, received hundreds of complaints from both British and Indian viewers.

Incidents included the controversial star stripping down to his boxer shorts in public and hanging offensive banners – such as Eat English Muffins – on the side of trains. These banners were strategically placed so that when the train carriages split, offensive phrases emerged.

The special also saw the Top Gear team driving through an Indian slum with a toilet fitted in the boot of their Jaguar, with Clarkson stating: “This is perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots.”

Perhaps most embarrassingly for Britain, David Cameron features at the start of the episode, where he waves to Clarkson and tells him to “stay away from India”.

It was originally agreed that the programme would be shot in the country after the show’s producer, Chris Hale, described it as a “light-hearted road trip”. The key aspects were to emphasise India’s “local car culture” through beautiful scenery and busy city scenes.

But the Indian High Commission has written a formal letter of complaint to the BBC, to convey “deep disappointment over the documentary for its content and the tone of the presentation. You are clearly in breach of the agreement that you had entered into, completely negating our constructive and proactive facilitation.”

The missive – published in The Daily Telegraph – goes on to say that the programme was “replete with cheap jibes, tasteless humour and lacked cultural sensitivity”.


This is not the first time Top Gear has been reprimanded for insulting foreign nationalities. In February last year, the BBC was forced to apologise to the Mexican ambassador after Hammond compared Mexican cars to national characteristics – “lazy, feckless, flatulent and overweight”.