BBC defends Mexico jokes on 'Top Gear'

BBC defends Mexico jokes on Top Gear Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson launch Top Gear's World Tour on September 25, 2009. (Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage)
LONDON (AFP) – The BBC apologised to the Mexican ambassador to London on Friday for remarks made about him on a top television show -- but defended its jokes about the country as being part of British humour.
Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora had written to the BBC earlier in the week about comments made by presenters of the motoring show "Top Gear" describing Mexicans as "lazy", "feckless" and "flatulent".
The BBC said in a statement that the executive producer of the show had "written to the Mexican Ambassador and apologised for the comments made about him during the show."
But it added: "On the broader issue of comments about Mexicans as people, the show has explained they were making comic use of a stereotype; a practice with which regular viewers of Top Gear will be familiar."
In the show, during a discussion about a sports car made by Mexican firm Mastretta, presenter Richard Hammond said vehicles reflected national characteristics.
"Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat," he said.
The presenters then described Mexican food as "sick with cheese on it".
Chief presenter Jeremy Clarkson later said "we won't get any complaints about this because the Mexican ambassador's going to be sitting there with a remote control like this" -- before slumping in his chair and snoring.
The BBC said hundreds of Mexicans had contacted its Spanish-language website BBC Mundo to complain.
Medina-Mora described the remarks as "outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults".
But the BBC said that while the comments may have been "rude" there was "no vindictiveness" behind them.
"We are sorry if we have offended some people, but jokes centred on national stereotyping are a part of Top Gear's humour, and indeed a robust part of our national humour," the statement said.
"Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganised and over dramatic; the French being arrogant and the Germans being over organised."

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