Ofcom has cleared Jeremy Clarkson’s comparison of a Japanese car to the Elephant Man of breaching the broadcasting code. Ofcom had received about 40 complaints that it was offensive to people suffering from facial disfigurement.Clarkson compared a Japanese car/camper van hybrid to people with growths on their faces in an edition of BBC2′s Top Gear in February.
The controversial presenter deployed gestures as if he had a disability and slurred his speech in a way that seemed to mimic Joseph Merrick, the so-called Elephant Man, saying that the car looked like something you would not talk to at a party. Co-presenter Richard Hammond called it the elephant car.
An Ofcom spokesman said:
Ofcom recognises that the comments were potentially offensive to individuals living with facial disfigurement. However, on balance we believe that they would not have exceeded the likely expectation of the audience, and any potential offence was justified by the context. We have informed the BBC of the issues raised by the complainants so they can be taken into consideration for future programmes.