London: British television series Top Gear’s producer has apologised for broadcasting a “light-hearted” joke by its host Jeremy Clarkson that sparked a complaint of racism by an India-origin actress, media reported Wednesday.
“If we had known that at the time, we would not have broadcast the word in this context and regret any offence caused,” Daily Mail quoted Andy Wilman, Top Gear’s executive producer, as saying.
During the BBC Top Gear special episode on Burma screened in March this year, presenter Jeremy Clarkson used the word slope, a derogatory term for people of Asian descent, while referring to a man who crossed a makeshift bridge built over a river.
“That is a proud moment, but there’s a slope on it,” Clarkson said in the show.
An Indian-origin actress, Somi Guha, 36, last month sued the BBC for up to one million pounds ($1.6 million) for the racist remark.
She instructed her lawyers to take action against Clarkson, describing the use of the phrase as an example of “casual racism” and “gross misconduct”.
Producer Andy Wilman explained the usage in a statement, “It was a light-hearted wordplay joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing.”
“We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word ‘slope’ is considered by some to be offensive and although it might not be widely recognised in the UK, we appreciate that it can be considered offensive to some here and overseas, for example in Australia and the USA,” he added.
The remark left viewers outraged with Twitter users describing it as “not big, not clever, not funny” and “a gag too far”.
The motoring show had also reportedly faced complaints from Indian and Mexican politicians over remarks made about their countries while filming on location.
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the world’s most widely watched factual television programme.