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BBC apologises for Clarkson's 'special needs' joke


By The Drum Team, Editorial

October 26, 2010 | 2 min read

The BBC has been forced to apologise after Jeremy Clarkson described a car as "special needs" on Top Gear.

Clarkson, no stranger to controversial comments, made the remark on the August 1 edition of the BBC2 show. He said the Ferrari F430 Speciale owned by co-host James May "was a bit wrong - that smiling front end - it looked like a simpleton - should have been called the 430 Speciale Needs".

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom received just two complaints but charities criticised the remark, with the National Autistic Society saying it perpetuated "the prejudice and bullying which people with disabilities have to cope with".

The BBC apologised for any offence caused and removed the remark from repeats of the show and its iPlayer airing.

Ofcom said: "While obviously intended as a joke and not aimed directly at an individual with learning difficulties, the comment could easily be understood as ridiculing people in society with a particular physical disability or learning difficulty."

Because of the immediate action taken by the BBC and because of its apology, Ofcom said that no further action was necessary.

Clarkson has previously caused controversy after asking Richard Hammond if he was "mental" when he returned to the show following a near-fatal car crash and joking about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes in 2008.

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