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BBC apologises for Top Gear outrage

'No vindictiveness' behind cheap Mexican jibes

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The BBC has apologised for its trio of laddish Top Gear presenters who managed to offend the whole of Mexico with some hilarious racial stereotyping.

As we previously reported, during a studio discussion of the comparative merits of sports cars from Germany, Italy and Mexico, jet car pilot par excellence Richard Hammond suggested these vehicles reflect the national characteristics of their makers.

The Mexican offering was, therefore, "a lazy, feckless and flatulent oaf with a mustache, leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat".

James May then described Mexican food as "like sick with cheese on it", while Jezza Clarkson suggested there wouldn't be any complaints about their banter because "the ambassador is going to be sitting there with a remote control, snoring".

Cue an official letter of complaint from Mexico's ambassador to Britain, Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, describing the remarks as "offensive, xenophobic and humiliating", threatened legal action under the UK's Equality Act, hundreds of protests via the Beeb's BBC Spanish-language website BBC Mundo, and demands for an apology from a group of British MPs, who classified the jibes as "ignorant, derogatory and racist".

The BBC has now obliged, with a statement which concedes that while the remarks were "rude" and "mischievous", there was "no vindictiveness" behind them.

The Corporation continues: "Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganised and over dramatic, the French being arrogant and the Germans being over-organised."

It adds that "stereotype-based comedy was allowed within BBC guidelines in programmes where the audience knew they could expect it, as was the case with Top Gear".

The apology concludes: "Whilst it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour, the executive producer has made it clear to the ambassador that that was absolutely not the show's intention."

Indeed, said executive producer apologised personally to señor Medina-Mora Icaza, and we look forward to seeing that meeting on Top Gear in due course, complete with witty commentary from Clarkson, Hammond and May. ®

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