Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jeremy Clarkson cleared by Ofcom over joke about truck drivers and prostitutes

Some sense of proportion left in Britain:
"Jeremy Clarkson [pic above] has been cleared by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom of causing offence after making a joke about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes. Ofcom received 339 complaints after the Top Gear presenter made the remarks during a pre-recorded episode of the BBC Two motoring show last month.

Clarkson and his co-presenters James May, the Daily Telegraph columnist, and Richard Hammond, were taking part in a stunt for the show that involved driving lorries around an obstacle course. Climbing behind the wheel, Clarkson mused: "What matters to lorry drivers? Murdering prostitutes? Fuel economy?" He went on: "This is a hard job, and I'm not just saying this to win favour with lorry drivers. It's a hard job - change gear, change gear, change gear, check your mirrors, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That's a lot of effort in a day."

His comments provoked a furious reaction from victim support groups and road hauliers who demanded that the presenter make a public apology.

Ofcom accepted that the remarks "could shock some viewers" but ruled that Clarkson was "clearly using exaggeration to make a joke, albeit not to everyone's taste. "The comments should therefore have been seen in that context," it said. "It is often the case that humour can cause offence. To restrict humour only to material which does not cause offence would be an unnecessary restriction of freedom of expression."

Ofcom also cleared an episode of the BBC One sitcom Harry and Paul, which featured an upper-class character, played by Harry Enfield, encouraging his Northern friend to mate with his neighbour's Filipino maid. The sketch prompted the Philippine ambassador in London, Edgardo B Espiritu, to write to the chair of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons, accusing the pair of racism.

However, Ofcom ruled that there was "no intention" to ridicule women or the Filipino community. "The target of the humour was very clearly the upper-class character played by Harry Enfield who holds such a deluded view of his social superiority that he treats individuals with lower social status with ridiculous disdain," it ruled.


Clarkson is one of the funniest men in Britain -- but not in the foul-mouthed way that is now so common among British comedians.


Anonymous said...

"Top Gear" is a great and funny show. They make funny snide comments all the time.

Anonymous said...

So it's okay to ridicule the upper-class but not other classes of folks ??? Didn't the House of Lords complain?

Anonymous said...

"Didn't the House of Lords complain?"

Most members don't drive lorries. So that must put them in the "other" catagory!