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Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2006, 09:50 GMT
BBC condemns Clarkson 'gay' jibe
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson is renowned for his sarcasm and straight-talking
Derogatory references to homosexuality made by Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson had the potential to offend and should not have been broadcast, the BBC has ruled.

Four complaints from viewers have been upheld after he agreed with an audience member that a car was "a bit gay", on a programme screened in the UK in July.

The presenter also described the vehicle as "very ginger beer", taken to be rhyming slang for the term "queer".

The BBC complaints unit said there was "no editorial purpose" for the remarks.

The Top Gear team had been reminded of the importance of avoiding such comments about "sexual orientation", it added.

'No doubt'

"As Jeremy Clarkson supplemented the term 'gay' with a phrase which is rhyming slang for 'queer', there was no doubt that it was being used in the sense of 'homosexual', and was capable of giving offence," the BBC concluded.

In August, viewers of the show - seen on BBC Two in the UK and BBC World internationally - were warned by the corporation that offensive jokes would remain "an integral part" of its content.

"Provocative comments" by sarcastic presenters should not be taken seriously, the BBC said, after receiving 500 complaints over a six-month period.

A month earlier, Clarkson had been cleared of making a "racist slur" about Germany because this was adjudged to be amusing rather than offensive.

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