British journalist Jeremy Clarkson has been caught in a racism row after allegedly using an offensive word on camera. An unaired footage of the “Top Gear” host chanting a rhyme that sounded like “n*****” was posted by a tabloid, prompting him to deny the slur.
On Thursday, the UK paper The Mirror posted a 30-second video of the 54-year-old host while shooting for his BBC show. The footage, which was cut out during editing, sees Clarkson reciting a nursery rhyme while choosing between two cars.
“Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...” he started before mumbling, “Catch a [unintelligible word] by his toe.”
The word was a bit garbled in the video, which led The Mirror to believe that he actually said “n*****.”
However, the TV presenter denied using the racist word,
I did not use the n word. Never use it. The Mirror has gone way too far this time.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) May 1, 2014
“I wish to God that my attempts to cover up that word were better than they were,” he told The Sun.
“I was simply mumbling – saying ‘ner ner’ or something similar, anything but the N-word. It was my mistake and I apologise for not covering it up. But if you look at the footage you can see what I’m trying to do.”
The tabloid is adamant that he uttered the offensive word, though, even hiring audio forensic experts to prove that he really said it.
Clarkson also posted a video on his Twitter, explaining his side.
He said that the episode, which aired in February, was actually shot two years ago.
“When I viewed this footage several weeks later, I realised that one of the mumbled versions, if you listen very carefully with the sound turned right up, it did appear I actually used the word I was trying to obscure,” he said in the video.
“I was mortified by this, horrified. It is a word I loathe. And I did everything in my power to make sure that that version did not appear in the program that was transmitted.”
He then read the note that he sent the production team, which read, “I didn’t use the n-word here but I’ve just listened through my headphones and it sounded like I did. Is there another take that we could use?”
An apologetic Clarkson told the viewers, “Please be assured that I did everything in my power to not use that word. And as I’m sitting here begging for your forgiveness for the fact that obviously my efforts weren’t quite good enough.”
His co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond, quickly turned to Twitter to defend him.
I 2nd May's comment re Clarkson. I can list a million things wrong with him, but he is absolutely not racist. An idiot, yes.
— Richard Hammond (@RichardHammond) May 1, 2014