Jeremy Clarkson, the presenter of Top Gear, has sparked nearly 200 complaints after making a joke about murdering prostitutes.
In a segment on lorry drivers, the 48 year old star said:
“This is a hard job and I’m not just saying that to win favour with lorry drivers, it’s a hard job. Change gear, change gear, change gear, check mirror, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That’s a lot of effort in a day.”
The quip related to former lorry-driver Steve Wright, who was convicted of killing five sex workers in Ipswich in 2006.
Brian Tobin from the Iceni Project which helped some of the girls killed in Ipswich told PA that he found the comments “distasteful and insensitive”.
“Maybe people on the BBC should think before they say some of the things they keep on coming out with”, he added.
Lorry Drivers’ groups have also expressed outrage.
Kate Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Road Haulage Association told The Telegraph:
“This is an unacceptable … slur on the character of lorry drivers and the character of the industry, and it is grossly unfair. It’s up to the BBC what action they take against Clarkson but we are certainly demanding an apology over these disgraceful comments.”
Some viewers have also posted comments on the show’s message board expressing their anger.
Most though have praised the programme, which was the first in the new series.
The incident is likely to lead to further questioning of the BBC’s editorial standards.
It comes just days after Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand were suspended from Radio 2 for a prank phone call to Andrew Sachs.
Like Brand’s Radio 2 show, Top Gear is pre-recorded.
The BBC have issued a statement saying:
“The vast majority of Top Gear viewers have clear expectations of Jeremy Clarkson’s long-established and frequently provocative on-screen persona. This particular reference was used to comically exaggerate and make ridiculous an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving, and was not intended to cause offence.”
Ofcom has also received complaints about the broadcast and are deciding whether or not to investigate.