Clarkson row dogs strike talks
BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson remains at the centre of a storm of protest despite apologising for saying striking public sector workers "should be shot".
The Top Gear host, who made his controversial comments during BBC1's The One Show on Wednesday night, said he did not intend the remarks to be taken seriously.
The BBC also offered an apology and said the item "wasn't perfectly judged", following widespread condemnation by unions, politicians and viewers.
Unison, which had threatened legal action over the comments, welcomed the apology. General secretary Dave Prentis said: "We are pleased Jeremy Clarkson has seen the error of his ways. It is only right the he apologises for the huge offence he caused to public sector workers and their families.
"We would like to invite him to spend a day on a hospital ward, with one of our healthcare assistants. They do vital work caring for patients - cleaning up sick, bathing patients, and wiping bottoms. We think he has many of the personal skills necessary for the job."
Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband were among those who took a dim view of the words uttered by the TV presenter and columnist, which attracted almost 5,000 complaints from viewers.
Mr Clarkson said: "I didn't for a moment intend these remarks to be taken seriously - as I believe is clear if they're seen in context. If the BBC and I have caused any offence, I'm quite happy to apologise for it alongside them."
The BBC said: "The One Show is a live topical programme which often reflects the day's talking points. Usually we get it right, but on this occasion we feel the item wasn't perfectly judged. The BBC and Jeremy would like to apologise for any offence caused."
During the programme, Mr Clarkson said of the strikers: "I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families. I mean, how dare they go on strike when they've got these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living."
Meanwhile, a Government minister said there was a "very realistic possibility" of reaching a deal on public sector pensions despite the huge strike by workers and threats of more industrial action. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said he believed there was a "good chance" of reaching agreement, adding that there was still a lot of detail to be discussed with the unions.