The BBC motoring programme ‘Top Gear’ – in reality a boys behaving badly with lots of expensive toys showcase – has come in for a drubbing from the British press for using the term ‘slope’ during the first of two specials filmed in Burma.

As a man walks towards them on a wooden bridge of the River Kwai who to their amusement have discovered is actually the River ‘Kok’ presenter Jeremy Clarkson says: ‘That is a proud moment, but there’s a slope on it’

After a pause Richard Hammond then says ‘You’re right. It’s definitely higher on that side.”

‘There’s a slope on it’

Slope of course was a term used by American GI’s to describe members of the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam or Indo-China War. Clarkson would have been brought up on Vietnam war movies.

It has been used a lot in Hollywood films as in Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction describing hiding the watch up his ass while a POW in Vietnam

“…I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let some slope get his greasy hands on this watch, …”
Lots of people complained on Twitter.

One fan commented: ”There’s a slope on it’? Sorry @BBC_TopGear that’s a step too far. Not big, not clever, not funny. All the best for the future.’

Another wrote: ‘Top Gear – There’s a slope on it – Subtle racism! Another said: ‘That slope joke on Top Gear tonight was ill advised. A great show ultimately spoilt by a gag too far.’
The criticism continued: ‘Unbelievable that @BBC_TopGear are allowed to broadcast such racist and disrespectful rubbish so proudly on the bbc’.

Actually the accusations are all a bit contrived. This of course has given the naughty boys and ‘Top Gear’ – a motoring show where the actual motoring reviews are the most boring part – great publicity.

Personally the Top Gear presenters have failed to top the Duke of Edinburgh who famously told a group of British students during a 1986 state visit to China that they would become ‘slitty-eyed’ if they remained in the country any longer.

He told a nurse her country must be ‘half empty’ as there were so many Filipinos working for the NHS.

In 1994 he asked someone from the Cayman Islands whether he was ‘descended from pirates’.
Four years later, he asked a student who had been backpacking in Papua New Guinea: ‘You managed not to get eaten then?’

 In 2002, the 91-year-old famed for his non-PC comments asked a group of Australian aborigines: ‘Do you still throw spears at each other?’

Ready for bed

In 2003 he told a robed president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, and this is my favourite: ‘You look like you’re ready for bed.’

On a Diamond Jubilee tour outing he told a council worker in a red dress that he’d ‘get arrested’ if he tried to unzip it.

After striking up a conversation with a Scottish driving instructor, he famously remarked (my second favourite): ‘How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?’

When a female Sea Cadet told him she worked in a nightclub, he famously replied: ‘Is it a strip club?’

He also reportedly reduced a 13-year-old boy to tears when he told him he would have to lose weight to fulfill his ambition of becoming an astronaut.

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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