London: India has demanded an apology from
the BBC over its presenter Jeremy Clarkson mocking Indian
culture during a Christmas special programme while driving
around the county, calling it a "breach" of agreement.
Clarkson, one of the highest paid BBC presenters
known for his controversial comments, presented the Top Gear
programme, which since its broadcast prompted several
complaints and allegations of racism.
In its January 6 letter to the programme`s producer,
Chris Hale, and copied to Mark Thompson, director-general of
BBC, the high commission said the BBC was "clearly in breach
of the agreement that you had entered into, completely
negating our constructive and proactive facilitation".
The letter added: "The programme was replete with cheap
jibes, tasteless humour and lacked cultural sensitivity. This
is not clearly what we expect of the BBC. I write this to
convey our deep disappointment over the documentary for its
content and the tone of the presentation".
In the programme, Clarkson allegedly made controversial
comments about India`s trains, toilets, clothing, food and
The BBC has confirmed receiving 23 complaints about
the programme, and added that it would directly respond to the
Indian high commission`s letter.
Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, who called for a BBC
apology when the programme was broadcast over Christmas, told
The Telegraph last night: "It seems that the reasons given by
the BBC in order to obtain their visas to go to India did not
disclose the true nature of the content of this programme."
"One ridiculous programme has done a lot of damage to
this good relationship. A swift apology from the BBC and Mr
Clarkson may go some way towards restoring our good relations
and the reputation of the BBC in India," Vaz added.
Before leaving for India, Hale had informed the
high commission in a letter dated 21 July that the trip was
intended to be "light hearted... focusing on the journey and
the inevitable idiosyncrasies of the cars they will drive, as
well as the country and the scenery we see along the way".
Clarkson was accompanied by two presenters, Richard
Hammond and James May.
Hale`s letter added: "There will be spontaneous
interaction between the presenters and their environment, and
potentially people they meet along the way. This will be in an
incidental manner, not interviews. Key ingredients of what we
film will be beautiful scenery, busy city scenes, local charm
and colour within these locations, areas to illustrate the
local car culture that exists in India."