BBC rebukes 'Top Gear' presenter Clarkson over racist language

Fri May 2, 2014 5:42pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - British state broadcaster, the BBC, has rebuked presenter Jeremy Clarkson over using racist language while filming car show "Top Gear", one of the most popular and profitable TV programs in the world, but dismissed calls for his resignation.

Clarkson, 54, apologized after a newspaper report earlier this week revealed he used an epithet for blacks while reciting the rhyme "Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe" to choose between cars while filming two years ago.

The presenter, known for his humorous but brash, blunt style, released a video on Twitter on Thursday apologizing and saying he had tried to avoid the racist expression used in a well-known older version of the rhyme.

He said he recorded three takes, mumbling the word "nigger" in two versions and substituting it with "teacher" in a third, and only realized later that the word could be heard clearly in one take.

"I was mortified by this, horrified. It is a word that I loathe and I did everything in my power to make sure that version did not appear in the program," said Clarkson, seen in the video brandishing a note to this effect sent to producers.

"As I am sitting here begging your forgiveness for the fact ... obviously my efforts weren't quite good enough."

The version did not appear on the show and it was not clear how the Mirror newspaper, which first published the story, got a copy of the take.

The revelation prompted calls for Clarkson to resign or be sacked by the BBC, which is publicly funded by an annual license fee of 145.50 pounds ($250) that must be paid by all UK households with a television.   Continued...

File photograph shows BBC programme "Top Gear" presenter Jeremy Clarkson speaking with a member of his crew while filming outside 10 Downing Street in London November 29, 2011.  
 REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/Files