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Last Updated: Friday, 2 February 2007, 12:47 GMT
Top Gear insulting, says charity
Richard Hammond (courtesy Top Gear Magazine)
Richard Hammond returned to the show on Sunday
The handling of Richard Hammond's return to Top Gear has been branded "insensitive" and "insulting" by a charity for people with brain injury.

Headway said it had been inundated with complaints particularly over comments made by presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

At the start of Sunday's show, Mr Clarkson asked Mr Hammond if he was mental, while James May offered him a tissue in case he started dribbling.

The BBC said the show was not intended to cause any offence.

It really was offensive and insulting to all those people living with brain injuries
Peter McCabe, of Headway

Headway chief executive Peter McCabe said: "This has created such anger among members of Headway. It really was offensive and insulting to all those people living with brain injuries.

"I think the whole way the show handled the issue was wrong. They should not have shown the crash.

"It just glamorised fast driving and gives the impression people can make a full recovery from head injuries.

"That is not always the case."


The charity said it had received 50 complaints via the telephone helpline and through email from members and has now announced it will be making a complaint about the programme.

Mr Hammond, 37, was left fighting for his life in September following the crash in when his jet-powered car came off a runway near York at 280mph.

The BBC Two show featured footage of the crash.

A BBC spokesman said: "Top Gear's audience is familiar with the irreverent tone of the programme and this was typical of the type of exchanges that take place between the presenters. It was certainly not intended to cause any offence.

"The item showing Richard's crash could not have been a clearer illustration of the dangers and excitements of speed."

The programme has also fallen foul of Brake, the national road safety charity.

It said it was "shocked and appalled" by Mr Clarkson's comment that "speed kills" just after pointing at Mr Hammond following clips of the crash.

Jools Townsend, from the charity, said: "Clarkson's comment was highly irresponsible and offensive to anyone who has been bereaved or injured at the hands of a speeding driver.

"A shockingly disproportionate number of young male drivers are dying on our roads and it is highly irresponsible for the BBC to allow Top Gear, with its target audience of young males, to openly make light the deadly act of speeding."

Richard Hammond's return to Top Gear

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