‘Top Gear’ is officially dead

Last night’s Top Gear, the second episode of the new series, was equally awful. Don’t just take my word for it, either: 2.8 million people tuned in to see it, less than half the viewership of old Top Gear. For comparison, Antiques Roadshow, the selling-crap-from-people’s-attic show TG was competing with, drew in 4.7 million viewers.

If you have an F1 racing driver in a brightly-colored McLaren, a former Friends star tearing around South Africa, and you still can’t beat two old men and an auction house, you know there’s a problem.

It’s a real shame. Top Gear has been a BBC institution since before the days of Jeremy Clarkson. It came from humble roots as a pure car show, and evolved over a dozen series into a high-quality entertainment show that brought car geekery into the mainstream.

Its general-public success was thanks not just to the three hosts, but what went on behind the scenes. Andy Wilman, the show’s longtime executive producer, left along with Clarkson, and he wasn’t the only other member of the show’s team to jump ship to The Grand Tour.

What the BBC was really left with was a format, an incredibly well-known brand, and a man in an all-white racing suit. Unfortunately, rather than trying to start over with a different concept for a car show — what Clarkson, Hammond and May did when they first rebooted Top Gear — Chris Evans and co tried to fit all the magic of TG into one season, and have failed spectacularly.

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Top Gear (BBC) – a Jeremy Clarkson, ‘uh-oh’

Ofcom examines Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear Myanmar joke

The show saw Clarkson (left) and his co-hosts face a series of challenges
The show saw Clarkson (left) and his co-hosts face a series of challenges

Media regulator Ofcom is investigating whether a recent episode of Top Gear, which included a controversial joke about Asian people, broke its rules.

Host Jeremy Clarkson used a derogatory term during the Burma Special, which was broadcast on BBC Two in March.

The show’s producer later apologised, but Ofcom is now looking into whether it breached its “content standards”.

The news comes after Clarkson was criticised for mumbling a racist word during an outtake from another episode.

The Ofcom investigation relates to a special programme in which the show’s hosts built a bridge over the River Kwai, on the border of Myanmar (also known as Burma) and Thailand.

Surveying the structure as a local man walked across it, Clarkson remarked: “That is a proud moment. But there’s a slope on it.”

Co-star Richard Hammond replied: “You’re right. It’s definitely higher on that side.”

‘Institutionally racist’

Equal Justice, a law firm specialising in discrimination cases, accused Clarkson of “clear gross misconduct” and said his comments made the BBC appear “institutionally racist”.

After receiving complaints, Top Gear producer Andy Wilman said it was “a light-hearted wordplay joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing it”.

He continued: “We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word ‘slope’ is considered by some to be offensive and although it might not be widely recognised in the UK, we appreciate that it can be considered offensive to some here and overseas, for example in Australia and the USA.

“If we had known that at the time we would not have broadcast the word in this context and regret any offence caused.”

If Ofcom decides its code has been breached “seriously, deliberately, repeatedly, or recklessly”, it can impose sanctions ranging from the broadcast of a correction or statement to a fine of up to £250,000.

The Ofcom investigation comes a week after the BBC faced calls to fire Clarkson after he mumbled an offensive part of the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe in a clip that was not broadcast.

The star said the corporation told him he would be sacked if he makes “one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time”.

BBC © 2014 – Original article on BBC.com

60 Minutes – BBC Top Gear

60 Minutes interview with the co-hosts of the BBC Top Gear television show – Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May

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