Clarkson denies gay car comment was homophobic

Marc Shoffman December 27, 2006
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Jeremy Clarkson has hit out at the BBC after he was reprimanded for describing a car as gay.

The Top Gear presenter picked up a remark from an audience that a certain car was “gay”, the presenter then backed it up by saying, “a bit gay, yes very ginger beer” which is cockney rhyming slang for queer.

The complainants objected to what they took to be the derogatory use of a term for homosexual people.

Last week, in a landmark ruling for a broadcaster, the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit agreed that the remarks “risk offending some of our audience.”

Writing in The Sun, Mr Clarkson, insisted he was not referring to homosexuals.

“Apparently, four people -from a worldwide viewing figure of around 350million – complained that in the last run of Top Gear, an exchange between me and a member of the audience could cause offence.

“This is what happened: I asked a chap in the audience if he would buy a small convertible car called the Daihatsu Copen. ‘No’, he replied. ‘It’s a bit gay.’

“Naturally, I took this to mean it was happy and carefree. A car which is too light and frothy perhaps for a real man.

“I therefore said, ‘Yes, it’s a bit ginger beer.’ By which, of course, I meant it was fizzy and a bit like beer. But not like the proper stuff which makes you happy and drunk.”

The ruling stated, “As Jeremy Clarkson supplemented the term “gay” with a phrase which is rhyming slang for “queer”, there was no doubt that it was being used in the sense of “homosexual”, and was capable of giving offence.”

The judgement called for the show to be reminded of “the importance of avoiding derogatory references to sexual orientation.”

Mr Clarkson added, “Sadly, it seems the Beeb exec thought we were referring in some way to homosexuals. If only he’d called me during the course of his investigation, we could have cleared it all up.”

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