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Updated: January 14, 2012 03:19 IST

I didn't like the programme at all, says Cameron about BBC show on India

Hasan Suroor
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A file photo of British Prime Minister David Cameron.
AP A file photo of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Says he has "the utmost respect for the people of India"

Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday distanced himself from the BBC's controversial programme on India with his aides saying that he “did not like the programme at all” and that he had “the utmost respect for the people of India.”

The comments came amid concern that the controversy could damage British-Indian relations after the Indian High Commission here formally complained to the BBC that the programme broadcast over Christmas was “replete with cheap jibes, tasteless humour and lacked the cultural sensitivity that we expect from the BBC.”

Top Gear, a popular motoring programme, is presented by Jeremy Clarkson one of the BBC's “star” presenters and a close friend of Mr. Cameron's. Downing Street denied that Mr. Clarkson and his team had Prime Minister's backing as the programme misleadingly sought to suggest.

It opens with a scene outside Number 10 Downing Street with Mr. Cameron waving to the Top Gear team as they leave for India.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: “The BBC are able to film in Downing Street as are other broadcast companies. They were in the street and he was leaving for an event. The government is not responsible for editorial decisions made by the BBC or any media organisation. This is a matter for the BBC.”

Officials said that Mr. Cameron in fact told the team to “stay away from India.”

When the BBC sought permission to film a special edition of Top Gear in India it described it as a “light-hearted road trip” whose “key ingredients will be [India's] beautiful scenery, busy city scenes, local charm and colour within these locations, areas to illustrate the local car culture that exists in India.”

The finished product, however, appeared to “mock” Indian culture and reinforce cultural stereotypes about India.

The scenes to which viewers have objected include one where Mr. Clarkson shows off a car with a lavatory fitted on its roof and says: “This is perfect for India…”

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