BBC Top Gear defends India special edition of show

The commission said the show "ran down the whole society"

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A special edition of the BBC show Top Gear in India which led to a complaint by the Indian High Commission was not insulting, the programme has said.

December's programme featured jokes about food and trains, and a Jaguar car fitted with a toilet seat in its boot.

Last week, the Indian High Commission in London complained that the show was "offensive" and had "toilet humour".

Top Gear said the show was a "warts and all" portrayal of India, and the jokes were at the expense of the presenters.

'Strong disappointment'

The High Commission of India wrote a letter to the BBC, published in the Daily Telegraph, criticising a lack of cultural sensitivity and called on the corporation to take action to pacify those offended.

Raja Sekhar, from the commission, said the letter was sent to show "strong disappointment" after he claimed the show "ran down the whole society, culture and people".

One Indian diplomat criticised a scene in the 90-minute show which showed presenter Jeremy Clarkson taking off his trousers at a party to demonstrate how to use a trouser press.

Showing off the customised Jaguar, complete with toilet roll on its aerial, Clarkson said: "This is perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots."

In its first full response to the criticism, Top Gear said the programme was "filled with incidents but none of them were an insult to the Indian people or the culture of the country".

'Reflected back'

In a statement on the BBC's complaints website, it said: "Our film showed the charm, the beauty, the wealth, the poverty and the idiosyncrasies of India, but there's a vast difference between showing a country, warts and all, and insulting it.

"It's simply not the case that we displayed a hostile or superior attitude to our hosts and that's very clear from the way the presenters can be seen to interact with them along the way."

The statement added: "We genuinely loved our time in India and if there were any jokes to be had they were, as ever, reflected back on the presenters rather than the Indian people."

Last April, a Top Gear episode which caused controversy with jokes branding Mexicans lazy and feckless and describing Mexican food as "like sick with cheese on it" was cleared by broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

The show attracted 157 complaints but Ofcom said Top Gear was well known for its "irreverent style and sometimes outspoken humour".

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