Jeremy Clarkson’s new motoring show The Grand Tour may have earned rave reviews, and reached the largest audience of any Amazon TV programme, but not everyone is a fan. The former Top Gear presenter has come under fire for a joke he made in the first episode, released last Thursday, in which he compared himself and his co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May to gypsies.
“This is our new travelling studio tent. We’re going to be roaming the world in it,” said Clarkson. “We’re going to be like gipsies – only the cars we drive are going to be insured.” Hammond interrupted Clarkson with a tongue-in-cheek warning: “Stop saying things that are going to get us fired.”
Gypsy and traveller advocacy group The Traveller Movement have complained about the show to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, which took charge of regulating streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Video in January this year.
Romany Gypsy campaigner Ben Bennett called Clarkson’s comments “disgusting”, while Travellers’ Times magazine branded the joke “racist”, quoting a post written by another Romany campaigner on a closed Facebook group: “I notice that almost the first thing they did was make racist jokes about Gypsies not having their vans insured… They’d been in trouble for just this kind of behaviour on the BBC, but now they’re on Amazon they obviously think that they can get away with it.”
In last week’s Grand Tour episode, Clarkson implied that he was able to speak more freely since moving from the BBC to an online-only service. “We’re on the internet, which means I could pleasure a horse,” he joked.
This is not the first time Clarkson has come under criticism from the Traveller Movement. The group have previously complained to Ofcom about an episode of Top Gear in which Clarkson appeared holding a sign that featured the anti-traveller slur “pikey”, but Ofcom dismissed their complaint last year.
The group have since lambasted the decision as a victory for “racist bullies”.