Top Gear comments ‘vulgar, but not a matter for the law’

Human rights chief bows out of ‘Top Gear’ row. By Luke Blackall

As the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips could be expected to respond to the ongoing row over the presenters of TopGear making remarks about “feckless” and “lazy” Mexicans.

But yesterday Mr Phillips refused to be drawn into the row, on the basis that itwas just a ruse to promote an already well-promoted show and its wellpromoted presenter. “Iamnot going to get hot under the collar about schoolboy provocation which frankly is organised so that we can get in to a ruck and sell more DVDs for Jeremy Clarkson,” he said. “Jeremy is rich enough. I don’t need to get into that. I am bothered about what he said. It’s juvenile, it’s vulgar, it’s unacceptable, but that’s for broadcasters and columnists to argue about. It’s not for the law.”

While the broadcasters and columnists argue over yet another furore, and another BBC spokesperson steps forward to make an apology, one could see why the corporation’s money men would berejoicing that their biggest cash cow is garnering even more publicity. Top Gear is thought to be the BBC’s most profitable programme. While it is an undoubted success in UK, with an audience comfortably above five million and manyDVDs sold every year, the real money comes from its international appeal.

The show has an estimated global audience of 350 million. Turn ontheTV in a foreign hotel and you’re likely to find the three podges racing caravans round a track on the BBC World channel. Asathree-time guest on the show, Steve Coogan, pointed out this week: “Forget, the World Service; overseas, TopGearismore frequently the public face of the BBC.” It is the prized possession of BBC Worldwide, while BBC Worldwide itself is the prized possession of the BBC. Last year it announced profits of £145m, arise of 36 per cent, and its overall value was put at £1bn. One estimate suggested that Top Gear itself made £26m a year. At a time when the BBC and its licence fee are being criticised more than ever from a hostile press, it is keen to highlight the few areas it does turn a profit.

While the shock value of what has been said is evident, it’s hard to see a why there has beenanysurprise. Since the format of the programme was rejuvenated in 2002 with Clarkson at the helm, it has consistently courted controversy and the publicity that comes with it.

Stirrer-in-chief is Clarkson. Whether it’s “gay” cars, comments about truck drivers murdering prostitutes, or television executives’ obsession with getting “black Muslim lesbians” to front TV shows, he is never short of a controversial opinion. The comedian Stewart Lee has described the presenter’s views as “outrageous politically incorrect opinions, which he has for money”. But the celebrity publicist Mark Borkowski believes the show is now in danger of losing its way, as well as its audience, as the presenters appear to be “running out of clever ideas”. “This type is the wrong type of publicity,” he said. “There’s arrogance at being untouchable, where you go into that space of thinking you’re above the law. “If you carry on behaving that way, you turn around one day and realise you have lost a lot of friends. The programme is a target now. When their audience starts to peak and decline, they’ll be a target even more so.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Extras
indybest
News
Joel Grey, now 82, won several awards for his role in Cabaret
people
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Sauce Recruitment: Senior Management Accountant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for a independently owne...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness