Jeremy Clarkson to Nelson Mandela: ‘Have you ever had a lap dance?’

Another typically ill-advised comment from the Top Gear presenter

Imagine, if you will, that you are Jeremy Clarkson about to meet Nelson Mandela.

You’re feeling nervous and want to say something intelligent and original. You rack your brains and think hard. And the only thing you can possibly come up with; the only question worthy of one of the greatest revolutionaries and philanthropists is: “Have you ever had a lap dance?”

Mandela met one-man offence machine Clarkson in 2010, when the presenter was touring South Africa with Top Gear.

The PA of the late South African President, Zelda La Grange, recalled the incident as one of the “ugliest” that she had experienced while working under Madiba, as the politician was also called.

“He walked into Madiba’s office and the first thing he asks him - really how inappropriate can you be? – is: ‘Have you ever had a lap dance?’” La Grange recalled.

“I immediately got to my boiling point – it was sizzling out of my ears; that’s how angry I was. I told Madiba: ‘You don’t have to answer that.’”

Clarkson’s intellectually bereft line of questioning continued.

“Do you come to the office often?” he asked inquiring as to how frequently Mandela visited his office.

Mandela replied that this was the first time this year, before La Grange interjected that he had met Neil Armstrong only the day before.

“He says: ‘Oh yes yes yes!’ because he connected with Neil Armstrong very well and it was an incredible meeting,” she recounted.

“And with Jeremy Clarkson there was just nothing more to say. So Madiba asks him: ‘Have you been to the moon?’

“If he can make such a stupid joke, Madiba can also.”

The joke went over Clarkson’s head and he said of their meeting that Mandela mistook him for the astronaut and wrote a column about it for The Times.

He put his conduct in their meeting to nerves.

“It was like queuing for a wedding line-up,” he said.

“You want to say something to the bride’s father that all the other guests haven’t said before, but what hasn’t already been said to Nelson Mandela? My head was in a spin.”

Clarkson was recently reprimanded by the BBC after a film emerged of him using the n-word in an unaired clip of Top Gear. The presenter initially denied racism claims, but later “begged for forgiveness”.

La Grange launched a candid memoir about her time working for Mandela this week, entitled Good Morning, Mr Mandela.

Read more: Nelson Mandela didn't know who Brad Pitt was
Is this the end for Jeremy Clarkson?
Clarkson's full racism apology video
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies