BBC took 'serious' view on Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson was left in no doubt about how "very seriously" the BBC viewed his alleged use of a racist term during a taping of Top Gear, director-general Tony Hall has said.
The popular but often controversial presenter mumbled the n-word while reciting the children's nursery rhyme "eeny, meeny, miny, moe" to choose between two cars. It was not screened but Clarkson found himself at the centre of a media storm in May when the Daily Mirror reported on the footage.
Lord Hall told The Times: "We had long discussions about that. We took it very seriously and we wanted to make sure the team knew what we thought about it.
"You've got to have the right boundaries. But nothing was broadcast, they were absolutely remorseful about any hint that they were saying or doing anything that was racist... There are millions of people who feel that Top Gear ... reflects them and their interests and we've got to respect that."
The BBC put the presenter on a final warning over the controversy and Clarkson wrote in his newspaper column that he believed he would be sacked by the broadcaster if he made another offensive remark.
He also posted a video online in which he said he was "begging for forgiveness" and claimed he had done everything he could to avoid using the word.
The TV star said he "mumbled where the offensive word would normally occur'' in two takes, and used the word "teacher" in its place in a third.
He said he was now "begging your forgiveness for the fact that obviously my efforts weren't quite good enough".
A solemn-looking Clarkson said: "I was mortified by this, horrified. It is a word I loathe."
Lord Hall also vowed that no-one would try to undermine The Archers, Radio 4's much-loved rural soap opera and the world's longest running serial drama.
He said of the show which was first broadcast in 1951: "There is always a tension between trying new things, making sure they grow and adapt and some people thinking you've done it too fast, but of course we will protect The Archers."
He also rejected claims that BBC 2's Newsnight programme has dropped in quality.
He told the Times that Newsnight is "not dumbing down" and praised editor Ian Katz for trying to reinvent the show. He also likes Evan Davis as the new host following the success of predecessor Jeremy Paxman.
"I think Jeremy did a brilliant job, but you have to keep thinking about news styles and changing," he said.