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Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson under fire
01:24 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Jeremy Clarkson asks forgiveness for using the n-word on a shoot

The "Top Gear" host mumbled the word while reciting a nursery rhyme; it wasn't aired

He says he did everything in his power to ensure that the footage was not used

BBC: "We have left him in no doubt about how seriously we view this"

CNN  — 

BBC TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson has asked forgiveness for using a racist term during a taping of his show “Top Gear,” after Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper brought a media storm by posting the footage online.

Clarkson mumbled the n-word while reciting the children’s nursery rhyme “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” to choose between two cars. That version of the take was never aired.

Clarkson posted an online explanation Thursday in which he said he was “begging for forgiveness” – and argued that he had done everything he could to avoid using the word.

“Ordinarily, I don’t respond to newspaper allegations, but on this occasion, I feel I must make an exception,” he said.

Clarkson said that in filming the section a couple of years ago, he was very keen to avoid using the offensive term in a version of the nursery rhyme and mumbled it on two takes before replacing it with the word “teacher” on a third.

“When I viewed this footage several weeks later, I realized that in one of the versions, if I listened very carefully with the sound turned right up, that I had actually used the word I was trying to obscure,” he said.

“I was mortified by this, horrified. It’s a word I loathe, and I did everything in my power to make sure that that version did not appear in the program.”

This included contacting the production office to ensure that another take was used in the show, he said.

Clarkson initially denied the report by the Mirror, tweeting, “I did not use the n word. Never use it. The Mirror has gone way too far this time.”

But after the newspaper posted the footage in question online and amid calls from some quarters for his resignation, the presenter was forced to backtrack. He posted his video message less than 12 hours after his initial denial.

A BBC statement said, “Jeremy Clarkson has set out the background to this regrettable episode. We have made it absolutely clear to him, the standards the BBC expects on air and off. We have left him in no doubt about how seriously we view this.”

“Top Gear” airs in a number of countries worldwide, including the United States.

CNN’s Phillip Taylor and Alexander Felton contributed to this report.