Top Gear in new controversy over faked hovercraft scenes on River Avon

During the disputed segment the vehicle, which is driven by Jeremy Clarkson, is shown spraying diners at a restaurant and blowing away their tables

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The Independent Culture

BBC motoring show Top Gear is embroiled in controversy over faked scenes after it emerged that actors had been hired to appear in a segment where a home-made hovercraft soaks diners at a riverside restaurant.

In the sequence, which was aired last week, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, drove a Ford Transit van, which had been customised as a hovercraft, on the River Avon.

During the relevant segment the vehicle, which is driven by Jeremy Clarkson, is shown spraying diners at a restaurant and blowing away their tables.

The sequence was one of a number that showed the television trio causing havoc as they tested their creation, which they had designed with flooding in mind, along the picturesque river.

It emerged today, however, that the restaurant scene had been carefully choreographed and that the diners featured in the section were in fact actors.

One of the performers employed to appear as a disgruntled diner, Michael Bott, 58, who has starred in The Bill, wrote of the filming on his blog: “Yesterday I did one of the silliest jobs ever.”

He described how he met the Top Gear producer and how the scene came to be filmed and choreographed.

He writes: "By the riverside is a very nice restaurant with windows overlooking the Avon and a decked balcony for outside dining.

"I meet the very nice producer and my fellow talent for the day – two girls and a gent – all pleasant and relaxed. Chairs and tables are arranged, close to the river bank.

We are now diners enjoying a peaceful meal."

Mr Bott goes on to explain that Mr Clarkson had two attempts at splashing the 'diners' and includes a video of the filming on his blog.

A spokeswoman for the BBC told The Times: "Top Gear is an entertainment programme and I don’t think the viewers would have been taken in."

In 2007 the BBC admitted that a scene involving the three presenters accidentally setting fire to a caravan was faked.

Despite coverage of the 'faked scenes' today Twitter fans of the programme seemed unconcerned with the new claims, with many suggesting it was obvious that the scenes weren't real.

Laura Dickinson wrote on the microblogging site: "I don't understand people's surprise and disgust when they 'discover' the majority of Top Gear is a stunt... Obviously?!"

Lloyd Rees (@Lloyd_Rees) a trainee solicitor wrote: "You were stupid if you thought it was real".