Senior BBC executives have trust issues with Top Gear so says the programs executive producer after a disastrous 2014 which could have been “the final Curtains” for the long running show.
The worlds most popular car show was marred in controversy during 2014, Jeremy Clarkson was exposed as a happy go lucky bigot and whilst filming the Christmas special in Argentina the production crew came under fire, quite literally, after locals became angered over references to the Falklands War.
Again Clarkson was at the center of the controversy driving around in a Porsche with a UK number plate which read “H982 FKL” a reference many thought to be about the 1982 Falklands War.
The Top Gear crew were stalked by irate Argentinians who were informed by an eagle eyed internet blogger during filming. The show ended in near disaster, the production crew were chased and pelted with stones while Clarkson and co were flown out of the country under police protection.
Earlier in 2014 a British newspaper dug up an unedited clip that was never used and for good reason. Clarkson uttered a racist term and the resulting firestorm saw Clarkson later apologizing and begging for forgiveness in a hurriedly filmed act of self pity. But after all that the show goes on as before stronger than ever.
Nevertheless the BBC were deeply unhappy and gave Clarkson and therefore the shows maker an official warning. Andy Wilman, Top Gears executive producer, spoke to the Broadcast Magazine and naturally was on defensive mode.
About Argentina and that now infamous number plate he said “The number plates were a coincidence… I would never jeopardise a whole show by “winding up” war veterans.” Wilman said.
Wilman was also asked about the shows relationship with the BBC.
“What the BBC like about Top Gear is when it’s naughty but it’s all under control.
“If your show is a bit wayward and naughty, there’s an attitude within it. We walk a tightrope most of the time. Sometimes we’re going to fall off it. And if you do, that’s when the BBC is not a fan.
“Sometimes, I feel they don’t trust us at heart.”
And whether the show received any support from BBC executives Wilman had to pause for a few seconds before replying, “Sometimes yes, sometimes no,”
Astonishingly Wilman also admitted he deliberately allowed the use of an offensive and racially derogatory term to refer to a Burmese national who was recruited to help build the now infamous Bridge during the Top Gear Special in Burma.
“I got that wrong because I thought it was a sort of Commando-mad, John Wayne-type film, sort of movie slang. I didn’t realise it would be offensive in a bigger way.
“I didn’t check it enough and therefore didn’t refer it [to the BBC’s editorial policy unit]. If I’d have done that, then…. it wouldn’t have happened”.
The show is not in jeopardy insisted Wilman, “I would hope and think we would continue, we’re still talking to them and our appetite is still there. We love the BBC – the notion and principle of the BBC. It’s a wonderful place to be.
“They’re willing because the show is working and it’s still a good thing to have in the mix.
“I could do with a bit less telling off, but there you go.”