LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) - The irreverent British motoring show “Top Gear” has driven into diplomatic hot water after a host branded a Mexican car “lazy, feckless and flatulent” and said it mirrored Mexico’s national characteristics.
Mexico’s ambassador to Britain fired off a letter to the state broadcaster protesting the show’s “outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults” and demanding an apology.
In the episode, host Richard Hammond likened a Mexican sports car to “a lazy, feckless and flatulent oaf with a mustache, leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat.”
Co-host James May went on to describe Mexican food as “like sick with cheese on it,” or “refried sick,” while Jeremy Clarkson predicted they would not get any complaints about the show because “the ambassador is going to be sitting there with a remote control, snoring.”
In his letter to the BBC, ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza wrote: “The presenters of the program resorted to outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults to stir bigoted feelings against the Mexican people, their culture as well as their official representative in the United Kingdom.
“These offensive, xenophobic and humiliating remarks only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes and perpetuate prejudice against Mexico and its people.”
A spokeswoman for the BBC confirmed receipt of the letter and said the BBC would “respond directly” to the embassy.
As one of the most popular and enduring brands on British TV, “Top Gear” is no stranger to negative headlines about its jock-ish behavior and irreverent humor. Focusing on fast cars and ludicrous stunts, its recent guests have included Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, who had to race against each other in a timed challenge driving 1970s clapped-up family cars.
The show was criticized by BBC bosses two years ago for showing Clarkson and May sipping alcoholic spirits while driving.