There’s only ever been one way to spell Top Gear; C-O-N-T-R-O-V-E-R-S-Y. And 2014 has been no exception for Jeremy Clarkson’s motoring show, which counts Mexico, France, India, the southern states of America and Gordon Brown among those it’s picked on.
And with “slope-gate” and “n-word-gate” landing Top Gear in the headlines (and in trouble with BBC bosses) in recent months (not to mention the Argentine embassy still complaining about an apparently inflammatory number plate being paraded through Patagonia) you could be forgiven for thinking that the show goes out of its way to rub people up the wrong way.
Not so, says presenter Richard Hammond.
“We [society] love to be offended and have a scapegoat. But at Top Gear we’re the first to put our hands up and say we pitched it wrong.”
“We’re not in the business of genuinely upsetting or offending anyone,” Hammond tells this week’s Radio Times magazine when asked if a recent Ofcom “racist” ruling was warranted. “We’re in the business of entertainment, and if it fails to entertain, it’s wrong. If the public says we’ve stepped over the line, then we have.”
But after another turbulent year, has the BBC told Top Gear to be more careful in future?
“That would be inappropriate to comment on,” says Hammond. “It goes above my pay grade very quickly.”
You can read the full interview with Richard Hammond in the new Radio Times magazine on sale Tuesday 24th November, also available on iPad and iPhone on Newsstand