Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Top Gear rapped over Mexican jokes

The Top Gear presenters' comments were cut before the show aired in the US
The Top Gear presenters' comments were cut before the show aired in the US

BBC2 show Top Gear has been criticised after complaints were upheld by the corporation's own watchdog over the way its presenters poked fun at Mexicans.

The edition of the show had already led to an apology to the country's ambassador over remarks made by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.

Now the BBC's editorial complaints unit (ECU) has upheld formal criticisms from viewers, saying they reinforced stereotypes.

The production team on the programme has been advised of the findings and "issues arising" from them.

The Mexican ambassador complained to the BBC, claiming the presenters had made "outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults".

Richard said Mexican cars reflected national characteristics, saying they were "just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent".

James described Mexican food as "like sick with cheese on it", while Jeremy predicted they would not get any complaints about the show because "at the Mexican embassy, the ambassador is going to be sitting there with a remote control like this (snores)". He added: "They won't complain, it's fine."

Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza did complain, which led the BBC to respond that it was sorry if the programme, broadcast on January 30, had caused offence. The corporation argued at the time that national stereotyping was part of British humour and the remarks were like labelling the French as arrogant and the Germans as over-organised.

The editorial complaints unit has now ruled that although the remarks were humorously intended, "their tone and cumulative effect seemed to the ECU to give the impression of reinforcing, rather than ridiculing, the stereotype". Complaints were received from 11 viewers and from the Mexican section of the Latin American Studies Association.

The comments were cut before the show was screened in the US.

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