Saturday, 3 May 2014

Jeremy Clarkson a racist? No chance

THERE are, I’ve worked out, only three certainties in life. Death, taxes, and controversies involving Jeremy Clarkson.

That’s why I’m sure I can’t be the only person in Britain who felt strangely blasé when they saw THAT headline the other day. CLARKSON’S N-WORD SHAME. It just makes you want to release all that pent-up Clarkson hatred The Daily Mirror bet you’ve been bottling up for months, doesn’t it?

Or rather it would, but these days Top Gear controversies and scandals occur with such cloying regularity that they might as well be episodes of Friends. Was it The One With The Mexican Jokes which offended most? Or perhaps The One With The Staged Caravan Inferno? The One With The Lorry Driver Insults?

On each and every occasion, a tabloid newspaper demands at least one of the Top Gear trio be sacked. Then, a fortnight later, everyone’s forgotten about it and the juggernaut that is the world’s most widely watched motoring show thunders a little further up the Beeb’s ratings.

This time, however, Jeremy has apparently been given a final warning. A final warning about a word which was never actually broadcast and which only appears in a clip which the tabloids have dug up to prompt your sense of disgust. A clip which – even if you listen to it repeatedly on YouTube – features Clarkson mumbling in an outtake so slurred it wouldn’t have been useable in the final cut anyway. Anyone who actually watches Top Gear – whether they love or loathe it – will know the idea of Jeremy Clarkson being a racist is absurd.

I watched that original N-word clip when it was broadcast, heard absolutely nothing of offence whatsoever, and absorbed it with no emotion other than a slight sense of smugness through learning that TV’s Jeremy Clarkson agreed with me on how brilliant the Toyota GT-86 is. I also watched the supposedly notorious bit of the Burma special, observed that the bridge the team had cobbled together was leaning one side, and only learned how outrageously offended I should have been by reading about it on The Daily Mail’s website the following morning.

I’m not asking you to like Jeremy Clarkson – that’s a bit like asking you to vote Nigel Farage – but I am suggesting that most of the people moaning about Top Gear have no interest in it. I have no interest in The Only Way Is Essex, but I don’t spend every night watching it, looking out for things to be upset about.

Happily, there’s someone out there who’s happy to stick their head above the parapet and tell it like it is. To paraphrase the direct quote from Twitter in a way that’s printable in a family newspaper, Jeremy Clarkson is many things, including a monumental pillock, but he definitely isn’t a racist.

Thank you for being the voice of reason, James May.

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