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
Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing