Top Gear: Complaints to BBC

Satch

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 24, 2003
Messages
3,508
Location
Surrey
Car
S211 E320Cdi Avantgarde Estate & Toyota Land Cruiser
Oooh our Licence fees are well spent.

BBC Programme Complaints: Appeals to the Governors

Summary of findings (April–June 2006)

Top Gear

BBC Two, 13 November 2005

The programme

Top Gear is a magazine programme presented by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. It covers motoring news and reviews the latest car models.

The complaint

The item concerned the Tokyo Motor Show. Richard Hammond picked up on the news that in order to emphasise that the Mini Estate is “quintessentially British”, the makers had stocked it with teaspoons and teabags. Jeremy Clarkson then commented: “We should do a car that’s quintessentially German ... giving it trafficators that imitate a Nazi salute ... and a satnav that only goes to Poland.” He concluded by commenting: “Und ein fanbelt that lasts a thousand years!”

The complainant argued that:

Clarkson’s comments were “poisonous rubbish”.

His comments were a “racist slur” on Germany that perpetuated the stereotype of Germany as a “land of aggressors”.

Racism against other nationalities would not be tolerated.

It could not be dismissed as a bit of fun.

The Head of the Editorial Complaints Unit did not uphold the complaint and the complainant appealed to the Governors’ Programme Complaints Committee.

The Committee’s decision

The Committee considered the complaint against the relevant editorial guidelines, taking into account all the material relating to the case.

The Committee gave careful consideration to the context of the item and in particular the expectation of the audience watching the programme. The Committee agreed that there was a real potential to offend, but felt the audience would have understood the purpose of Jeremy Clarkson’s remarks and accepted his comments as an established element of his television persona. The Committee believed that the majority of the Top Gear audience would have been aware that Jeremy Clarkson often uses the most exaggerated stereotypes to support or defend his opinions and would not have taken his comments seriously.

The Committee agreed that comments about the Nazis and the Second World War could certainly cause more concern than many other subjects. However, the Committee did not believe that, when looking at the audience as a whole, they would have felt that the comments were anything more than Jeremy Clarkson using outrageous behaviour to amuse his audience, and that the remarks would not have led to anyone entertaining new or different feelings or concerns about Germans or Germany. The Committee concluded that, although it recognised that offence might have been caused to some people, there was sufficient editorial purpose for including the material – its purpose was to entertain, not to offend – and the item did not breach guidelines with regard to portrayal or overall audience expectation.

Finding: not upheld
 

Howard

MB Club Veteran
Joined
Apr 23, 2004
Messages
18,624
Location
Toad Hall
Car
CLS 500 / A 150
Some people really haven't got anything better to do , have they ......
 

Birdman

Active Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Messages
908
Location
Oxford, Oxfordshire
Car
E55 & Phaeton
Now it's the Conger eel protection society (Creeps) writing one letter to the RNLI and getting the fund raiser conger cuddling competition banned.
Give them the bird. payingattention only encourages them.
Creeps!
 

nickmann

Active Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2003
Messages
673
Car
Porsche 911
I find it very reassuring that the complaint was rejected twice. Perhaps there is hope for sanity after all.

I was speechless yesterday when a colleague showed me a "newspaper" article (well, Daily Wail anyway) which reported on schoolgirls falling foul of the law for drawing hopscotch grids on a pavement. That, apparently, is a low-level crime.
 

glojo

Hardcore MB Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 15, 2004
Messages
14,652
Location
Torquay
Car
S211 Sprinter 213CDI, & the new T-class
The sad thing is that there was a complaint. Even on this forum we have to be so careful what we say as there will always be someone screaming about racist slurs.

John
 

gary350

Active Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2004
Messages
809
Location
south wales
Car
slk 230 & slk 350 (sold) Jag XF 2.7 Premium Luxury
It proves he can get away with murder the only other person that can is the togmeister himself Mr Terry Worgan. Devils advocate - its only funny if its not aimed at you.

gary the wise
 

Shude

Hardcore MB Enthusiast
Joined
Jun 1, 2002
Messages
13,882
Location
Cheshire
Car
CLK55 AMG

nickmann

Active Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2003
Messages
673
Car
Porsche 911
glojo said:
The sad thing is that there was a complaint. Even on this forum we have to be so careful what we say as there will always be someone screaming about racist slurs.

John

That's very true, but it's not an indictment of our members being Daily Wailers. It's because the written word can be sometimes be open to mis-interpretation because of the lack of facial expression (smileys are no substitute), the lack of intonation and the lack of gestures. Not everyone has the same grasp of the language, and this can often lead to a reader inferring something incorrectly. Also you must consider that we are a collection of people who on the whole do not know each other well, so we must be careful.

When listening to (or reading) JC, on the other hand, we can be sure that his comments are designed to be simplistic and amusing.
 

Pietre

Active Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2004
Messages
633
Location
Portsmouth
Car
Volkswagon Phaeton V10 5.0L
Are his comments simplistic to cater for the Northeners levels of understanding (joke):D
 

BonzoDog

Active Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2005
Messages
734
Location
Luxembourg
Car
280 cdi Break S211 Avantgarde, B200 CDI, W245, Autotronic
Sorry to disagree but with a German wife, many relatives both German and English, my daughter who is both German and English, I find Clarkson, not just on this occasion, highly offensive in his comments on Germans and Germany.
Yes, he is highly entertaining but if he would dare do anything like this directly to me or my family I would have no hesitation in letting hom know what I thought.
If he dared to do the Nazi salute in Germany it is more than likely that he would be given the same treatment as that other despicable creature David Irving.
 

glojo

Hardcore MB Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 15, 2004
Messages
14,652
Location
Torquay
Car
S211 Sprinter 213CDI, & the new T-class
nickmann said:
Not everyone has the same grasp of the language, and this can often lead to a reader inferring something incorrectly.

To a great degree I agree with you, BUT as can be seen by an objection on this forum you will always get someone to object to just about anything.

This country allegedly prides itself on its openness, yet the instant anyone makes a humorous remark someone, somewhere will distort it and take it as a personal attack. I am certain that Jeremy Clarkson was not picking on an individual grandmother whose third uncle removed came from Germany??? Are we being insulting when we criticise Germans for reserving a sun lounger??
Is that racist???

The joy of being English is that basically we are ALL a bunch of mongrels. Trace back your heritage and the chances are that somewhere there is 'foreign blood' SHOCK, HORROR???? who blooming cares, who cares if we are related to Hitler, Osama Bin Laden or Pope John McGuinness the third, Luther King or Mahatma Ghandi. A comedy program is a comedy program, if you don't like the content, then simply press a button and get on with life. 'Nickmann' has raised an excellent, very valid point about the written word being taken out of context, but Top Gear is a visual light hearted, comedy. I certainly do not watch it for its technical appraisal of any motor vehicle, I watch it because it makes me laugh.

I have found that on this forum we have members from numerous countries, with numerous members fortunate enough to marry partners from different countries, backgrounds etc, but the most important thing that stands out is that basically we are a large family and it saddens me at times to see little tiffs where someone suddenly misinterprets a message that has been poorly explained. Lets all accept that NO ONE would ever dream of openly abusing another member (unless they own a BMW :D )

Regards
John alias Genghis Khan the third
John
 

BTB 500

MB Club Veteran
SUPPORTER
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
20,034
Location
Shropshire
Car
R129 SL500, W639 Vito 120, S205 C300
My OH is German and wasn't upset or offended by the above, she watches TG purely for comedy / entertainment and in that context found the comments pretty amusing.
 

219

MB Club Veteran
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
Messages
15,664
Location
Gone
Car
Not always
BonzoDog said:
Sorry to disagree but with a German wife, many relatives both German and English, my daughter who is both German and English, I find Clarkson, not just on this occasion, highly offensive in his comments on Germans and Germany.
Yes, he is highly entertaining but if he would dare do anything like this directly to me or my family I would have no hesitation in letting hom know what I thought.
If he dared to do the Nazi salute in Germany it is more than likely that he would be given the same treatment as that other despicable creature David Irving.

I no longer watch the programme as I find it unfunny and far from the informative show it once was . Just about the only thing going for it when I last watched (the time they destroyed the W140) was the excellent artistic videography , but now other shows are doing that too .

I am glad I did not see this particular episode and I suspect it will be banned in Germany just as the 'Don't mention the war' episode of 'Fawlty Towers' was.

PS. The Spanish version of Fawlty Towers with the bumbling English waiter is , I think , quite funny (only saw it once on holiday) but maybe a lot of people here would not think so .
 

nickmann

Active Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2003
Messages
673
Car
Porsche 911
BonzoDog said:
...Yes, he is highly entertaining but if he would dare do anything like this directly to me or my family I would have no hesitation in letting hom know what I thought...



That's a bit Harry Enfield isn't it?
 

gary350

Active Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2004
Messages
809
Location
south wales
Car
slk 230 & slk 350 (sold) Jag XF 2.7 Premium Luxury
I bet Mel Gibson thought his remarks to be funny to, in Connie Francis words "who sorry now".

I am with Pontoneer I do not watch Top smear anymore shame I llike cars.

gary
 
OP
OP
Satch

Satch

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 24, 2003
Messages
3,508
Location
Surrey
Car
S211 E320Cdi Avantgarde Estate & Toyota Land Cruiser
gary350 said:
I am with Pontoneer I do not watch Top smear anymore shame I llike cars.

gary

Ceased to be a Car Show long ago.

It is a light entertainment show with a car theme. I accept it for what it is: mostly entertaining but can be rather hit & miss, sometimes really funny and sadly not quite so often nowdays bordering on the brilliant.

The Three Buffoons in a Caravan episode was staged but still made me snort beer out through my nose in a most undignified manner. High praise indeed.
 

glojo

Hardcore MB Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 15, 2004
Messages
14,652
Location
Torquay
Car
S211 Sprinter 213CDI, & the new T-class
Satch said:
Ceased to be a Car Show long ago.

It is a light entertainment show with a car theme. I accept it for what it is: mostly entertaining but can be rather hit & miss, sometimes really funny and sadly not quite so often nowdays bordering on the brilliant.

The Three Buffoons in a Caravan episode was staged but still made me snort beer out through my nose in a most undignified manner. High praise indeed.

Totally agree,
It's very much a case of each to there own, but to threaten violence over a simple piece of entertainment is perhaps OTT.

Who will be the first to complain about the way a brave English spy is portrayed in 'Allo 'Allo??? Or is that different because the person is English??

I am saddened by some folks attitude, but in a way feel sorry for them simply because life is far too short to be an olde grump!!! and I should know :p :p :D
 

imadoofus

MB Enthusiast
Joined
May 16, 2005
Messages
2,859
Car
This and that.
I don't see why people can't accept that eveyone on TG is just acting!

As I've said before, Jeremy Clarkson puts on a show, and plays a character, as do all the others. In real life, he's not really a pillock. Just as Hammond isn't really short, and James May isn't posh.

Unless they're all typecast...;)

Seriously though, as Pontoneer alluded with the Fawlty Towers reference, when it's obviously fiction and written for laughs, then very few people take offence, because everyone can be objective. Clarkson sets out to offend, and the sooner people accept that he's just doing it for effect, and to wind people up, the better.

Again, as I've said before; as long as we demonstrate that we take what he says seriously (by getting offended, or by not buying Vectra's or whatever), then he'll keep doing it.

PJ
 
OP
OP
Satch

Satch

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 24, 2003
Messages
3,508
Location
Surrey
Car
S211 E320Cdi Avantgarde Estate & Toyota Land Cruiser
James May not really posh? Dear me.

But he has my vote:

In a radio interview, May confessed that he was fired in 1992 from Autocar magazine after putting together a hidden message in one issue. At the end of the year the magazine's "Road Test Year Book" supplement was published. Each spread featured four car reviews, and each review started with a large, red, drop-capital letter. May's role was to put the whole supplement together, which "was extremely boring and took several months". He went on to say:

"So I had this idea that if I re-edited the beginnings of all the little tests, I could make these red letters spell out a message through the magazine — which I thought was brilliant. I can't remember exactly what it said but it was to the effect that "You might think this is a really great thing but if you were sitting here making it up you'd realise it's a real pain in the ****."

It took me about two months to do it and on the day that it came out I'd actually forgotten that I'd done it because there's a bit of a gap between it being "put to bed" and coming out on the shelves. When I arrived at work that morning everybody was looking at their shoes and I was summoned to the managing director of the company's office.

The thing had come out and nobody at work had spotted what I'd done because I'd made the words work around the pages so you never saw a whole word. But all the readers had seen it and they'd written in thinking they'd won a prize or a car or something. "
 

PJH

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 5, 2003
Messages
2,254
Location
Feering,Essex
Car
C180k for Wifey, Focus Ecoboost 6 speed
I think at times TG gets a bit too silly.

Pontoneer said:
PS. The Spanish version of Fawlty Towers with the bumbling English waiter is , I think , quite funny ....
I thought the Spanish version had a Portuguese waiter.
 
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom