Ofcom to probe Top Gear Burma special

Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond front Burma Special Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond were tasked with building a bridge across the River Kwai in the Burma special

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Ofcom is to investigate whether a recent edition of Top Gear broke broadcasting rules.

It is likely to focus on the use of the word 'slope' in reference to an Asian man by presenter Jeremy Clarkson in the Burma special, which went out on BBC Two in March.

The media regulator will judge whether the programme contravened the Broadcasting Code in relation to content that causes 'harm and offence'.

Clarkson's use of the term - which is regarded by some people as a derogatory description of a person of Asian descent - has already prompted an apology from Top Gear producer Andy Wilman, who said he regretted any offence it may have caused.

'We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word 'slope' is considered by some to be offensive and although it might not be widely recognised in the UK, we appreciate that it can be considered offensive to some here and overseas, for example in Australia and the USA,' he said.

'If we had known that at the time we would not have broadcast the word in this context and regret any offence caused.'

The BBC had received a formal complaint about the use of the word from actor Somi Guha, whose lawyers Equal Justice said it contravened the Equality Act 2010 and accused the BBC of 'casual racism'.

News of the Ofcom probe comes just days after Clarkson took to YouTube to 'beg forgiveness' after a newspaper revealed that it had seen unbroadcast footage of the presenter mumbling an offensive word as part of the Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe children's rhyme.

'I've been told by the BBC that if I make one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time, I will be sacked,' wrote Clarkson in his Sun column this week.

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