by Dayo Laniyan
The BBC’s head of television Danny Cohen, has himself come to the aid of Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson, saying that he does not believe that Clarkson is racist.
Cohen wrote in a letter to the Guardian: “It’s no secret that there have been some significant issues on Top Gear in recent months. Whilst Jeremy and I disagree on the Language some have recently found very offensive, I do not think he or anyone on the Top Gear team are racist.”
The presenter of the BBC Two programme has been in a storm of controversy, first mumbling the N-word in a racist version of the children’s rhyme “Eeeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe” in an unaired clip from the show that came up earlier this year, called an Asian man “a slope” in a Top Gear special broadcast in Burma, and also named his black dog “Didier Dogba, after Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba.
Although apologising for the comment, Clarkson was given a final warning about his behaviour in May, and last week Ofcom ruled Clarkson had broke broadcasting rules during the Top Gear, regarding the slope comment as “an offensive racial term…which was not justified by context.”
Despite his support for Clarkson, the BBC Director Cohen did admit that “It’s no secret that there have been some significant issues on Top Gear in recent months. The BBC has taken them seriously and has left no one associated with the programme under any illusion just how seriously. I instigated a health check on Top Gear to ensure that there were no further issues.”
“I want Top Gear to maintain its unique take on the world but more controversies of this nature would serve no one well…The focus now is on the future and continuing the great success of Top Gear with audiences. I’m confident the hard-working, high-quality production team will deliver this.”
This letter was written and made public after Cohen ordered an internal review into the culture of Top Gear itself over the complaints about racism.