Jeremy Clarkson: BBC chief insists Top Gear presenter’s alleged use of n-word was taken ‘very seriously’

Lord Hall says team had ‘long discussions’ about whether to keep Clarkson

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The Independent Online

Jeremy Clarkson was left in no doubt about how "very seriously" the BBC viewed his alleged use of a racist term during a taping of Top Gear, director-general Tony Hall has said.

The controversial presenter is said to have mumbled the n-word while reciting the children's nursery rhyme "eeny, meeny, miny, moe" to choose between two cars. It was not screened but Clarkson found himself at the centre of a media storm in May when the Daily Mirror reported on the footage.

Lord Hall said the BBC had “long discussions” about whether Clarkson should leave the motoring programme afterwards. He told The Times: “We wanted to make sure the team knew what we thought about it.

"You've got to have the right boundaries. But nothing was broadcast, they were absolutely remorseful about any hint that they were saying or doing anything that was racist... There are millions of people who feel that Top Gear ... reflects them and their interests and we've got to respect that."

The BBC put the presenter on a final warning over the controversy and Clarkson wrote in his newspaper column that he had been told by the BBC if he made another offensive remark.

He also posted a confusing YouTube video in which he said he was "begging for forgiveness" but claimed he had done everything he could to avoid using the word.

The TV star said he "mumbled where the offensive word would normally occur" in two takes, and used the word "teacher" in its place in a third.

Lord Hall’s comments come after the BBC's director of television said Clarkson "does not see a problem" with some of the language he has used in the making of the show.

In the making of another Top Gear episode he referred to "a slope" on a bridge, which was being crossed by a Thai man.

Danny Cohen told an audience at the Edinburgh International Festival in August that he had warned the presenter that he was not untouchable despite the global popularity if the show.

Clarkson has been criticised for jokes about Mexicans and other national groups during previous editions of Top Gear.Cohen revealed that Clarkson had rejected criticisms of his language when the pair had discussed the director of television's unhappiness with the presenter's behaviour."He doesn't see a problem with some of the language he has used," said Cohen. "He feels differently about it from me."