Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has said he is “horrified” that it sounded as though he used racist language while filming an episode and was “begging your forgiveness” for the fact it appeared that he did.
Responding to claims that he used the n-word while reciting a nursery rhyme, Clarkson told his Twitter followers he had made every effort to make sure he did not use the slur, but realised it might have sounded as though he had.
In a video posted on his Twitter account tonight, he said: “I was mortified by this, horrified. It is a word I loathe.
“When I viewed this footage, several weeks later, I realised that if you listen very carefully with the sound turned right up, it did appear I actually used the word I was trying to obscure,” he added of one of the first two takes.
The allegations were reported in today’s Daily Mirror, which claimed the footage was studied by “audio forensic experts” who told them the star “can be heard chanting Eeny, meeny, miny moe...’. He then mumbles ‘Catch a n***** by his toe’”.
His co-host, James May, also came to his defence on Twitter, saying: “Jeremy Clarkson is not a racist. He is a monumental bellend and many other things, but not a racist. I wouldn’t work with one.”
The claims come days after the motoring show’s producer apologized for broadcasting a “light-hearted” joke by Clarkson that sparked a complaint of racism.
An episode filmed in Burma and Thailand and shown in March featured a scene in which the presenters built a bridge over the River Kwai, and as an Asian man walked over it Clarkson said: “That is a proud moment, but there’s a slope on it.”
Somi Guha, an actress who complained to the BBC, said the use of the word “slope” was an example of “casual racism” and “gross misconduct”.
The BBC2 show’s executive producer Andy Wilman said: “When we used the word slope in the recent Top Gear Burma Special, it was a light-hearted wordplay joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing it.
Clarkson previously faced a storm of protest from mental health charities after he branded people who throw themselves under trains as “selfish” and was forced to apologize for telling BBC1’s The One Show that striking workers should be shot.