BBC confirm Top Gear Cenotaph stunt ‘will not be aired’

Skidmarks around the Monument to the Women of WWII,  just metres along Whitehall from the Cenotaph. Picture: Tony Kershaw

Skidmarks around the Monument to the Women of WWII, just metres along Whitehall from the Cenotaph. Picture: Tony Kershaw

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FOOTAGE for the new Top Gear series which was filmed near the Cenotaph in London “will not appear” in the final film, the BBC has said.

A statement released by the corporation yesterday said the Cenotaph was “at no point” intended to feature in the segment filmed on location around central London.

Co-host Matt LeBlanc and a professional driver performed stunts near the war memorial in Whitehall, but the stunt sparked an outcry.

“The Cenotaph was at no point intended to feature in the programme and therefore will not appear in the final film,” the statement said.

The driver was “briefed by production prior to filming” to not do any manoeuvres close to the monument, “an instruction to which he fully adhered”, the statement said.

“We would like to make it absolutely clear the Top Gear team has the utmost respect for the Cenotaph, what it stands for, and those heroic individuals whose memory it serves so fittingly,” the statement concluded.

Earlier, Chris Evans admitted footage for the new Top Gear series filmed near the Cenotaph was “disrespectful” and should not be broadcast.

Speaking outside the BBC yesterday, Evans described the images as “terrible” but claimed there were “mitigating circumstances”.

He added: “I saw the images this morning for the first time and I felt the same as everybody else.”

In response to a question as to whether it reflected positively on Top Gear, he said: “This is not a good story, no.”

• READ MORE: Jeremy Clarkson apologises to Top Gear producer over punch

“We’re all mortified by it, so absolutely, 100 per cent, it should not be shown.”

Former Friends actor Le­Blanc was seen driving around Westminster as shooting took place for the new series of the BBC Two show, due to air in May, and photos show skidmarks left on streets surrounding the war memorial after the stunt.

Speaking on his BBC Radio 2 show, Evans said he “completely understood the furore” around the photos and added: “Retrospectively it was unwise to be anywhere near the Cenotaph with this motorcar.”

The stunt was described as “gravely disrespectful” by retired Colonel Richard Kemp. He said: “This is a sacred tribute to millions of people who have done far more for their country than Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc ever will. Jeremy Clarkson was certainly no saint but I don’t believe he would have ever performed a stunt in such bad taste.”

Clarkson was fired for hitting a producer. Evans was appointed to replace him and a new line-up was unveiled recently after Clarkson’s co-presenters quit to join him on an Amazon Prime show.

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