Apology Sought After 'Top Gear' Host Likens 'Lazy,' 'Flatulent' Car to Mexicans
In a letter to the BBC, the country's ambassador says the hosts "resorted to outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults to stir bigoted feelings against the Mexican people."
LONDON -- The BBC's irreverent and high-testosterone motoring show Top Gear has landed the BBC in diplomatic hot water after host Richard Hammond branded a Mexican car "lazy, feckless and flatulent" and said it mirrored Mexico's national characteristics.
The Mexican ambassador to Britain has now called for an apology and has written to the BBC protesting the show's "outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults."
His Excellency Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza has complained about comments made in an episode broadcast Sunday and demanded the show's hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Hammond, make a public apology.
In the episode [watch at the end of this post], Hammond joked that Mexican cars reflected its national characteristics and that a Mexican sports car would resemble "a lazy, feckless and flatulent oaf with a moustache, leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat."
May went on to describe Mexican food as "like sick with cheese on it," or "refried sick," while Clarkson predicted they would not get any complaints about the show because "at the Mexican embassy, "the ambassador is going to be sitting there with a remote control, snoring."
"They won't complain, it's fine," he said.
In his letter to the BBC, the ambassador wrote: "The presenters of the program resorted to outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults to stir bigoted feelings against the Mexican people, their culture as well as their official representative in the United Kingdom.
"These offensive, xenophobic and humiliating remarks only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes and perpetuate prejudice against Mexico and its people."
A spokeswoman for the BBC confirmed the letter and said the BBC would "respond directly" to the Consulate.
As one of the most popular and enduring brands on British TV, Top Gear is no stranger to negative headlines about its jock-ish behavior and irreverent humor. Focusing on fast cars and ludicrous stunts, its recent guests have included Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, who had to race against each other in a timed challenge driving 1970s clapped-up family cars.
The show was criticized by BBC bosses two years ago for showing Clarkson and May sipping alcoholic spirits while driving, and as recently as last week the May made fun of Sky Sports presenter Charlotte Jackson and the Sky Sports sexism row at the National Television Awards. The scandal eventually claimed the jobs of soccer anchors Andy Gray and Richard Keys.