“Rich Middle-Aged Men Laughing At Poor Mexicans” Coogan Slams Top Gear

Steve Coogan waded into the Top Gear vs Mexico debate this weekend by denouncing Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond as racists. “The BBC’s hand-wringing also suggests tolerance of casual racism, arguably the most sinister kind,” he added.

Writing in the Observer, the Alan Partridge creator also criticised the corporation’s “initial mealy-mouthed apology” as ‘pitiful’ and said that its defence of the presenters amounted to “tolerance of casual racism”.

The furore kicked-off last weekend when the three Top Gear presenters called Mexico a nation of ‘feckless’ people and compared the nation’s cuisine to vomit. If you haven’t seen it yet, check the clip here..

Coogan said he was a “huge fan” of Top Gear and normally regarded the presenters’ irreverence as part of the “rough and tumble” that goes with having a sense of humour. But he said there was a “strong ethical dimension” to the best comedy which actively challenges prejudices rather than reinforcing them, laughing at hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness.

He said the presenters wore their offensiveness like a “badge of pride” and mistakenly believed it gave them an “anti-establishment aura of coolness” when in fact it was “uber-conservative”. Coogan, who admitted he was now unlikely to be invited back on the show, said the comments were all the worse because with its high viewing figures Top Gear was often the “public face of the BBC”.