A gay couple have accused the BBC of discrimination after they were barred from attending a recording of Top Gear.

Simon Reeves, 26, of Surrey, told the Daily Mirror he and his partner applied for tickets to watch the show being filmed but were turned down because of a rule that bookings must be made up of equal numbers of men and women.

Reeves told the newspaper: “Top Gear is the blokiest show on telly but we weren’t allowed unless we took a couple of female friends.

“It sounds like something Jeremy Clarkson came up with to ensure he didn’t have to put up with any gays.”

Clarkson, of one Top Gear’s presenters, was nominated for Stonewall’s Bigot of the Year award in 2007 for refusing to apologise after being reprimanded by BBC bosses for derogatory gay jibes on primetime TV.

Booking rules for the BBC2 show insist that tickets must be purchased in groups of four, with two men and two women.

A BBC spokeswoman said gay couples were welcome and the split was designed “to avoid the entire audience being made up of men”.