Top Gear host denies, then apologizes for using n-word; will be fired for next “offensive remark”

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson apologizes for using the n-word in a clip from the show, having previously denied that he used it.

In an unbroadcast take from a 2013 episode, Clarkson chooses between two cars using a children’s counting rhyme: completes the “eeny, meeny, miny, moe; catch a teacher by his toe.” But footage shows one take of the second half “teacher” was replaced by the n-word.

Initially, Clarkson tweeted, “I did not use the n word. Never use it. The Mirror has gone way too far this time.” But in a video posted to Twitter Thursday, explained that he did three takes, in two of which he “mumbled” the racist term, and said, in part,

“When I viewed this footage several weeks later, I realized that in one of the mumbled versions, if you listened very carefully with the sound turned right up, it did appear that I actually used the word I was trying to obscure. I was mortified by this–horrified, it is a word I loathe. … I did everything in my power to not use that word. And, as I’m sitting here, begging your forgiveness for the fact that my efforts were obviously not quite good enough.”

Clarkson later wrote in The Sun, according to the BBC, “I’ve been told by the BBC that if I make one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time, I will be sacked.” This follows an apology by the show’s producer over Clarkson’s use of another, more obscure slur in an episode that did air.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.