Jeremy Clarkson’s name mustn’t be mentioned at the BBC. Or at least in the new series of the comedy W1A where his voice and face will be pixelated.
The first episode of Jon Morton’s satire about the Corporation returns with an hour-long episode later this month in which one of the sub-plots involves deleting all the archive episodes of Top Gear in which Clarkson uses the word “tosser”.
As David Tennant’s narration says, this follows widespread complaints from the public about his use of the word in the “BBC sitcom Top Gear”. The task of trawling through four years of footage of the show falls to the chronically stupid intern Will Humphries (Hugh Skinner).
The episode, which begins a second series on April 23, was written before Jeremy Clarkson was told his Top Gear contract would not be renewed following his altercation with producer Oisin Tymon. However the W1A production team then decided to make comic mileage from the Clarkson plotline by the edits.
This means that Clarkson’s face in archive footage is pixelated, with his name also bleeped out from the narration.
“I wrote this episode in July last year so the only thing we did was add a voice over and to bleep Clarkson and clumsily pixelate his face so hopefully we got another couple of little jokes out of that,” said Morton who also directed the episode.
He told RadioTimes.com that the BBC did not insist on any changes concerning the mentioning of Clarkson.
“All we did was a little tweak to acknowledge that things happened in the real world,” he added.
Executive producer Jon Plowman said that the decision to bleep Clarkson’s name out and to pixelate his face was done also because it was the “kind of thing that Ian Fletcher would do”. Fletcher of course, is the BBC’s hapless head of values played by Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville.
The main thrust of the episode concerns a Royal visit from Prince Charles and Morton has revealed that the production did actually ask the heir to the throne if he would appear.
“We might have sent an email – it was the longest of long shots” he said. The production did not get a reply.
Many of the regulars from series one will be returning including the jargon-spouting PR Siobhan Sharpe played by Jessica Hynes (pictured) and Sarah Parish’s icy head out BBC output Anna Rampton.
The new series of W1A returns to BBC2 on Thursday April 23 at 9pm