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.”

Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicReview: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Life and Style
tech
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
News
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik, 37, 2.59 meter (8,5 feet) tall, the world's tallest living man, waves as he poses for the media by the Chevrolet Tacuma car presented to him by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev on March 24, 2008.
newsPeasant farmer towered at almost 8'5'' - but shunned the limelight
News
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter
media
Life and Style
Could a robot sheepdog find itself working at Skipton Auction Mart?
techModel would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian
film
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sportWinger arrives from Real Madrid and could make debut on Saturday
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Hooked on classical: cellist Rachael Lander began drinking to combat panic attacks
musicThe cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow...
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

Junior Data Analyst / Junior Analyst

£20k: Guru Careers: Our client was one of the first real-time advertising prac...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis