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TV & Radio

May 6, 2014

Racism, homophobia, drink-driving -- end of the road for Jeremy Clarkson?

Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson is in hot water again, this time for reportedly using racist language. Crikey intern Clovelle Car takes a look back at Clarkson's past controversies.

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As part of our 15th birthday celebrations, we’ve trawled through the archives to bring you some of the best, weirdest and most salacious articles published on Crikey since our launch on February 14, 2000.

*This article was originally published on May 6, 2014.

Television presenter Jeremy Clarkson (pictured) has received a “final warning” from broadcaster BBC, after reportedly using racist language while filming hugely popular car show Top Gear. This isn’t the first time Clarkson has courted controversy; Crikey looks at the past “Oh, no he didn’t!” moments in Clarkson’s history …

December 2004: The BBC admits fault and agrees to pay compensation after Clarkson crashes a pick-up truck into a tree in Somerset, England, to test the strength of a Toyota. Local residents think the damage was caused accidentally or by vandals until the episode airs.

December 2005: Clarkson performs a Hitler-style salute and makes mocking references to the Nazis on Top Gear as he talks about the BMW Mini. He says the car has a satellite navigation system “that only goes to Poland”, in reference to the invasion of Poland that triggered World War II.

February 2006: Clarkson says the BBC does not take Top Gear seriously in the February issue of Top Gear magazine. He highlights that the network often replaces the show with live snooker coverage, which is “like billiards for poor people”, and that the “show has become a monster”.

December 2006: Four complaints regarding derogatory references to homosexuality are upheld by the BBC after Clarkson describes a car as “a bit gay” and “very ginger beer” (allegedly rhyming slang for the term “queer”).

July 2008: Clarkson is shown drinking alcohol while driving, which the BBC Trust says “could be seen to glamorise the misuse of alcohol”. The show’s executive producer says the hosts were in international waters and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of drink-driving laws.

November 2009: BBC producers are asked by the Romanian government to remove remarks made by Clarkson, who donned a pork pie-style hat to be accepted by the “gypsies” and talked of entering “Borat country”. He was also seen washing his face with “cool, refreshing communist water”.

August 2010: Clarkson says the Ferrari F430 “should have been called the 430 Speciale Needs”.

December 2010: Clarkson and his Top Gear co-stars dress up in burqas on the Boxing Day special, in “order to disguise themselves on the road”.

February 2011: Clarkson argues in his Sun column that without offensive humour, there can be no jokes, after making racial slurs against Mexicans in response to the country launching legal action against Top Gear.

December 2011: Clarkson is again accused of racism after a Top Gear Christmas special in India. He “mocked the dress of Indian dignitaries” while “driving around slums in a Jaguar fitted with a toilet” and made “repeated jokes about the country’s trains, food, history and conditions”.

February 2012: Clarkson says that striking public sector workers in the UK “should be shot”. Media watchdog Ofcom finds the comments were not in breach of broadcasting rules.

October 2012: Clarkson names and shames “moron Audi drivers” on Twitter, identifying them by number plates. He highlights the benefits of the internet as a “libel-free world”.

March 2013: A Top Gear official vows “never to come back to Australia” after constantly being “confronted by paparazzi”. Clarkson reportedly says: “You can take them out of England, but you can’t take the convict out of them.”

March 2014: Clarkson uses a racial slur during a special Burma episode. A group of people offended by the term, including actor Somi Guha, argue the term contravened the Equality Act and are seeking $1 million in compensation from the BBC. Clarkson responds to the complaint on Twitter: “I’m not a racist. I am currently sitting in a bar with a man who lives quite near Wales.”

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