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Jeremy Clarkson 'sorry' for shoot strikers gaffe

Adam Sherwin in London

With his history of offending the Welsh, gypsies, lorry drivers and Mexicans, inviting Jeremy Clarkson on to a live BBC One show, with a Christmas DVD to plug, was a high-speed pile-up waiting to happen.

But the 'Top Gear' presenter, notorious for his provocative 'humour', was forced to apologise after his call for striking public sector workers to be shot attracted condemnation from the British prime minister down.

The BBC said it had received more than 5,000 complaints after Mr Clarkson, discussing Wednesday's strikers, said on 'The One Show': "I'd have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families."

The BBC issued an apology over the comments, which have prompted a backlash on social-network sites and beyond.

However, a further, personal apology was required from Mr Clarkson, if he was to withstand calls from Unison, which represents more than a million public sector workers, for the BBC to sack their star.

Mr Clarkson, who earns an estimated £1m a year from the BBC and £850,000 from a deal with commercial wing BBC Worldwide, 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."

The BBC, which faces sanction from watchdog Ofcom for failing to control Mr Clarkson and allowing him to offend early-evening viewers, hopes the apology will prevent the affair spiralling into another 'Sachsgate' -- the almighty row which broke out in October 2008, when Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left lewd messages on veteran actor Andrew Sachs's answering machine during a broadcast of Brand's Radio 2 show. (©Independent News Service)

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