Thursday, 3 July 2008

BBC watchdog attacks Top Gear for glamorising drink-driving after Clarkson sipped G&T during race to North Pole


By Paul Revoir and Niall Firth  03rd July 2008

Top Gear has been censured by the BBC's governing body for glamorising drink-driving.

It follows a complaint from a viewer who criticised the 'blatant use of alcohol while driving' during an episode of the hit BBC1 show.

The programme – which saw presenters James May and Jeremy Clarkson drinking gin and tonic in the cab of a truck – was described as 'grossly irresponsible'.

Jeremy Clarkson

Controversial: Jeremy Clarkson enjoys a G&T while behind the wheel on Top Gear

The BBC Trust yesterday upheld the complaint, saying the show had sent out completely the wrong message about drink-driving, particularly to youngsters.

Its report said: 'The committee considered the scenes carefully and felt that drinking while driving did involve the misuse of alcohol.'

The controversy centred on an episode called Polar Special – aired last July at 8pm before the watershed – which featured a race between the three presenters.

Clarkson and May were filmed trying to reach the Magnetic North Pole in a pickup truck, ahead of Richard Hammond, who was in a sled pulled by dogs.

During the race, the two men were seen drinking gin and tonic in the cab of the truck.

But the programme's executive producer insisted the pair were not drunk or out of control of the vehicle, and claimed the footage was filmed in 'international waters' and therefore drink-driving laws did not apply.

Despite these claims, the BBC Trust ruled that the scenes 'could be seen to glamorise the misuse of alcohol'.

It also noted that 10 per cent of the programme's regular audience is under the age of 16.

But it accepted that drink had been introduced on one occasion for 'entertainment' to play up the luxury of their truck compared with the sled.

Ruling the scene would not be shown in future repeats of the show, the report added: 'We did not think the scenes of drinking while driving were editorially justified in the context of family entertainment.'


Vladds comment

Some people could start a fight in an empty room, a television programme that regularly gets over 6 million viewers gets one single complaint and is censored for future viewing. Did this person have a complete sense of humour bypass? I'm sure the whole G&T bit was done for two reasons to compare the luxury of the pick up truck compared to Richard Hammonds trip on the dog sleigh and to lead to the ice joke. Is it because this series is un pc and popularist the BBC feels the need to censor it? For instance why did the BBC feel the need to 'confess' that the caravan episode was a set up, this must have been obvious to anyone with half a brain. The fire as well as an attempt at humour, I guess, also highlighted the dangers of caravan fires. It just seems there are a section of the population who will not be happy until Top Gear is taken off the air for good, see the Transport 2000 campaign a couple of years ago. Yes they don't do road tests of everyday cars, if you want that there are other car programmes such as Fifth Gear, and yes there is a lot of driving around in supercars but that is the point of the programme. It is about cars, some of which you can only dream of, it is entertainment. Now if you are a car hating type who froths at the mouth at the very mention of Clarkson, Hammond and May then don't watch. Leave us car loving dreamers with an anti pc streak one programme to enjoy. 

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