It appears the new team at the UK’s Top Gear program are following on from its predecessors, having to issue another grovelling apology for a stunt that’s backfired.
New host Chris Evans has unreservedly apologised after its latest recruit Matt “Friends” Le Blanc was busted doing donuts next to the Cenotaph in Westminster in the centre of London. The Cenotaph is a memorial to Britain’s war dead and highly revered by ex-service people and most Britons.
Le Blanc appeared to be driving some sort of rally car (known as a ‘Hoonicorn’) and was photographed by nearby paparazzi smoking the tyres and leaving tyre tracks on the road outside the Cenotaph. A spokesperson for the Cenotaph, retired Colonel Richard Kemp, called the stunt “gravely disrespectful”.
A spokesperson for Top Gear said the show had gotten permission from Westminster Council for the stunt and added that Le Blanc didn’t come within 40 metres of the Cenotaph.
However, Evans used his BBC radio show to apologise for any offence caused: ““It doesn’t matter what actually happened, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances were that could explain this away, what is important about this is what these images look like and they look entirely disrespectful which is not and would never be the intention of the Top Gear team or Matt.
“On behalf of the Top Gear team and Matt, I would like to apologise unreservedly for what these images seem to portray. There have been some very incendiary comments written alongside these pictures and I completely understand this furore but the Top Gear team would never ever do that.
“Retrospectively it was unwise to be anywhere near the Cenotaph with this motor car,” Evan said.
The first series of the show following the departure of original hosts Clarkson, May and Hammond is set to air in May of this year. It’s as yet unclear when the series will air in Australia.