Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Top Gear 'ad' breached guidelines

Top Gear presenters Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May
The suicide featured in a mock TV commercial for a Volkswagen car

A spoof car advert shown on BBC Two's motoring show Top Gear was too graphic for the time of its broadcast, the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has ruled.

The mock advert, which featured a man committing suicide by shooting himself in the head, prompted 50 complaints.

The BBC argued that the advert, shown before the 2100 watershed on 2 August, was "ludicrous and obviously comic".

But Ofcom found the programme in breach of its guidelines, saying it "exceeded audience expectations".

The spoof suicide, it ruled, was both "graphically depicted" and "potentially disturbing" and was not editorially justified.

Edited out

No warning had been given before the programme, which also included a mock advert featuring a man with a severed arm in a hospital waiting room.

Ofcom noted that the scene showing the man shooting himself was edited out of a repeat of the programme shown on BBC Two at an earlier time.

It is not the first time that Top Gear - hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May - has fallen foul of the broadcasting regulator.

In 2007, Clarkson was criticised for describing a vehicle as being "ginger beer", a term Ofcom said could be offensive to homosexuals.

The following year, though, the same presenter escaped censure after making jokes about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes.

In its November bulletin, Ofcom cleared Top Gear on three other counts that drew a total of 13 complaints.

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