Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson deemed racially offensive by media regulator for ‘slope’ slur

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson

An episode of Top Gear, the popular BBC car show distributed widely across Asia, has fallen foul of Britain’s media regulator for a racist slur towards Asians made by presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

Ofcom has ruled that the outspoken show host deliberately used the word “slope” to refer to an Asian person while shooting an episode of Top Gear in Myanmar.

Clarkson, who has previously been in trouble for making racially insensitive remarks, made the comment while the show was constructing a temporary bridge. On spotting an Asian man walking on the bamboo crossing, Clarkson said: “That is a proud moment – but there is a slope on it.”

The regulator decided that the comment was offensive and breached its rules after an investigation into whether Clarkson may have been referring to the slope of the bridge, and not making a racist slur. 

Top Gear producer Andy Wilman was quoted in British newspaper The Independent as saying: “We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word ‘slope’ is considered by some to be offensive and although it might not be widely recognised in the UK, we appreciate that it can be considered offensive to some here and overseas, for example in Australia and the USA.”

“If we had known that at the time we would not have broadcast the word in this context and regret any offence caused,” he said.

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,” they said.

The show was screened across Asia in March on BBC Knowledge, which is available in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Cambodia, Thailand and Taiwan. The series also aired on in China and BS Fiji in Japan.

The series is currently airing as a repeat with the controversial segment edited out, BBC Worldwide has informed Mumbrella.

Top Gear ChinaThe show aired just two months before BBC Worldwide announced the launch of a Chinese version of the show, which is the world’s most popular factual entertainment format.

Filming on Top Gear China is to start in late July with the premiere expected in early November.


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