Jeremy Clarkson's N-word statement
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson makes a video statement after unaired footage made public allegedly showed him using a racist word in a children's rhyme.PT1M37S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-37lgi 620 349 May 2, 2014
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has released a video begging for the public's forgiveness after appearing to use the N-word in a segment for the top-rating television show.
Clarkson claims he tried to obscure the racist word while he recited the nursery rhyme "eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a n----r by the toe", but admitted that "obviously my efforts weren't quite good enough".
The offending footage, which was obtained by the Daily Mirror in the UK, was recorded during Series 19 of Top Gear, but was not aired on the BBC at the time. In the version that did air in February 2013, Clarkson recited the rhyme but used the word “teacher” instead.
No stranger to controversy: Jeremy Clarkson. Photo: Craig Abraham
But the Daily Mirror posted the footage on its website, in which Clarkson is shown standing between a Toyota GT86 and a Subaru BRZ, which he explains in the segment were built by the same people in the same factory.
"You might imagine then that it's quite hard to choose between them, but actually, it isn't. Watch, because this is how you do it," he says in the footage.
The presenter then recites the children's counting rhyme and appears to use the N-word under his breath before pointing at the Toyota and saying: "Toyota it is."
Top Gear presenters Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May.
Clarkson, who has come under fire in the past for allegedly making racist comments, had earlier issued a robust denial of the allegation that he had used the N-word, telling his 3.2 million Twitter followers: "I did not use the N-word. Never use it. The Mirror has gone way too far this time."
But he then backtracked, posting a video statement online on Thursday, UK time, in which he apologised.
"Ordinarily I don't respond to newspaper allegations but on this occasion I feel I must make an exception," he said.
Clarkson said he had been "extremely keen" to avoid the racist expression in the best-known version of the rhyme, and on the day in question had recorded three takes.
"In two I mumbled where the offensive word would normally occur, and in the third I replaced it all together with the word 'teacher'," he said.
"Now when I viewed this footage several weeks later, I realised that in one of the mumbled versions, if you listened very carefully with the sound turned right up, it did appear that I'd actually used the word I was trying to obscure. I was mortified by this, horrified. It is a word I loathe, and I did everything in my power to make sure that that version did not appear in the program that was transmitted."
Clarkson said he sent a note to the production staff to ensure that that version of the segment did not go to air, and it was not broadcast on the BBC.
"Please be assured that I did everything in my power to not use that word, and ... I'm sitting here begging your forgiveness for the fact that obviously my efforts weren't quite good enough. Thank you."
His apology came after a day of growing calls for the BBC to sack him.
The BBC released a statement saying: "Jeremy Clarkson has set out the background to this regrettable episode. We have made it absolutely clear to him, the standards the BBC expects on air and off. We have left him in no doubt about how seriously we view this.".
The office of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is a friend of Clarkson's, told The Guardian that Mr Cameron would "certainly not" use the word.
The furore comes days after the show's producer apologised for broadcasting a "light-hearted" joke by Clarkson that sparked a complaint of racism.
An episode of the show, filmed in Burma and Thailand and shown in March, featured a scene in which Clarkson and his co-hosts built a bridge over the River Kwai. As an Asian man walked over the bridge, Clarkson said: "That is a proud moment, but there's a slope on it."
In 2007, Clarkson attracted flak for not only calling the Malaysian-manufactured Perodua Kelisa the "worst car in the world", but suggesting that it had been built by "jungle people who wear leaves as shoes".
In 2005 he gave a Nazi salute while reviewing a car from the German company BMW, and said the vehicle's satellite-navigation "only goes to Poland".
While filming in India in 2011 he drove through slums in a Jaguar fitted with a wooden-seated toilet in the boot, which he said was "perfect for India, because everyone who comes here gets the trots".