BBC rapped over 'racial' Clarkson remark

Published Monday, 28 July 2014
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The BBC's Top Gear has been ruled to have breached Ofcom's broadcasting rules over a "racial" term used by Jeremy Clarkson.

BBC rapped over 'racial' Clarkson remark
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. (© Getty)

The regulator decided the comment, made by the presenter during the programme's Burma special screened in March, was offensive.

Monday's ruling by Ofcom involved a scene in which the presenters were involved in the construction of a makeshift bridge over the River Kwai and viewers saw an Asian man walking on the bamboo crossing, while Clarkson declared: "That is a proud moment - but there is a slope on it."

Two viewers were concerned that the word "slope" was an offensive racist term.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: "After a thorough investigation, Ofcom has found the BBC breached broadcasting rules by including an offensive racial term in Top Gear, which was not justified by context.

"Jeremy Clarkson used the word 'slope' to refer both to an Asian man crossing a bridge, and the incline of the bridge. This was scripted in advance. The BBC failed to take the opportunity, either during filming or post-production, to check whether the word had the potential to offend viewers."

The programme's executive producer, Andy Wilman, had previously apologised for the use of the term, saying it had been intended as a "light-hearted word-play joke" and that the team had been unaware the term was considered offensive.

And the BBC said on Monday: "We dealt with this matter some time ago, the programme apologised at the time and explained the context, and we are now focusing on delivering another series of one of Britain's best-loved shows."

In its judgment, Ofcom said "there was clearly an opportunity both during filming and post-production to research the word and reach a more considered view on whether it was 'mere slang' and had the potential to cause offence to viewers".

The regulator decided there was "insufficient context to justify the broadcast of this material" and that the BBC did not apply generally accepted standards to protect viewers from offensive material.

The ruling comes just three months after Clarkson was caught up in another racism row which prompted him to apologise and he was given a final warning about his behaviour by the BBC.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
3 Comments
SAD in LISBURN wrote (119 days ago):
WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING. HOW CAN A WORD LIKE SLOPE BE RACIST. ONE DAY WE WOULD NOT EVER BE LOUD TO SAY THE WORD BLACK IE BLACK PEN BLACK T SHIRT.
G in Belfast wrote (120 days ago):
RE: David in Belfast Let's look at the facts:- 1. The Executive Producer said that it was a "light-hearted word-play joke" - he clearly knew that the word "slope" had another definition other than the one you have detailed. 2. The visual, as they said this word, showed an Asian man on the bridge - this was deliberate so they could use their 'joke' otherwise they could have just shown the bridge with no-one on it. The team knew what they were doing/showing was racist. We don't live in the 1970s - this deliberate (scripted) racism should not be permitted in the 21st Century.
David in BELFAST wrote (121 days ago):
Get a life people. Why should we watch what we say today just for fear of offending someone or being classed as racist. Say it as it is. The true definition of a "Slope" in the dictionary is "A surface of which one end or side is at a higher level than another; a rising or falling surface". They were building a makeshift bridge and one side was lower than another. i.e a slope. How people can make that out as a racist slur is beyond a joke.
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