The BBC has formally apologised for images of a daredevil Top Gear stunt filmed near to the Cenotaph in central London, and has vowed not to show images of the monument in the final edit.
Following Chris Evans’ apology for the Top Gear stunt this morning, the Corporation’s statement read, “The Cenotaph was at no point intended to feature in the programme and therefore will not appear in the final film. However, we are acutely aware of how some of the images in the press look today via the angle and distance they were taken and for which, as Chris Evans has already said, we sincerely apologise.
“The driver of the car was briefed by production prior to filming as to where to drive and to not do any manoeuvres close to the monument, an instruction to which he fully adhered.
“We would like to make it absolutely clear that the Top Gear team has the utmost respect for the Cenotaph, what it stands for and those heroic individuals whose memory it serves so fittingly.”
The statement was also at pains to stress the care that went into the shoot.
“Top Gear has been on location around central London over the past few days. Ahead of filming, the production team worked closely with the Metropolitan Police Film Unit and the Special Events Unit of Westminster Council. This was a large scale complex shoot, prepared over a period of four months which required numerous road closures, health and safety regulations to be in place and also included full disclosure to local residents, including the Treasury and Foreign Office.”
The BBC’s formal statement follows Evans’ decision to apologise “unreservedly” after Matt LeBlanc filmed Top Gear scenes in central London.
LeBlanc was seen driving around Westminster doing a stunt for the new series of the BBC2 show – a sight which former British military commander Colonel Richard Kemp told the Daily Telegraph was “in bad taste.”
“This is a sacred tribute to millions of people who have done far more for their country than Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc ever will,” Kemp said. “Jeremy Clarkson was certainly no saint but I don’t believe he would have ever performed a stunt in such bad taste.”
Earlier today, Evans said the footage would not be broadcast, but stressed the decision was not his to make.
“That footage will definitely not go on the air, no question about it. It’s not my decision, but if it was my decision then I would say that particular scene shouldn’t be shown, and I think that everybody will agree,” he said.
Speaking on his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, Evans also said, “I would like to apologise unreservedly.”
He added that he hadn’t seen the images until they were published, but that he could see how “disrespectful” they seemed.
“I hadn’t seen them until this morning as I was away with my family for the weekend,” he said. “This isn’t a shoot I’m particularly involved with but I do obviously know something about it.
“It doesn’t matter what actually happened, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are that could explain this away.
“What is important about this is what these images look like but they look entirely disrespectful which of course is not and would not ever be the intention of the Top Gear team or Matt.”
The new series of Top Gear is scheduled to air from 22nd May.