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Chris Evans issues apology for 'disrespectful' Top Gear stunt

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We're struggling to think a day that's gone by when someone hasn't criticised the new-look Top Gear for something it's done, and today is no exception.

Host Chris Evans was forced to issue a grovelling apology after the show came under fire when a car, driven by co-host Matt LeBlanc performed 'doughnuts' - wheel spins which produce a lot of noise, smoke and leave rubber tyre marks - on  the road close to the Cenotaph War Memorial in London's Whitehall.

Retired Colonel Richard Kemp had criticised the action, calling it "gravely disrispectful".

He told The Telegraph: “It beggars belief that they were ever allowed to film here. 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... It’s worse than doing a stunt in a cemetery and screaming round people’s graves. It’s a shocking desecration of one of our most sacred sites. The BBC should apologise and cut that part of the show.”

Top Gear Cenotaph

Chris Evans apologised this morning on his Radio 2 Breakfast show, saying: “It doesn’t matter what actually happened, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances were that could explain this away, what is important about this is what these images look like and they look entirely disrespectful which is not and would never be the intention of the Top Gear team or Matt (LeBlanc). 

"On behalf of the Top Gear team and Matt, I would like to apologise unreservedly for what these images seem to portray. There have been some very incendiary comments written alongside these pictures and I completely understand this furore but the Top Gear team would never ever do that. Retrospectively it was unwise to be anywhere near the Cenotaph with this motor car.”

He later added: "That footage will definitely not go on the air, no question about it. We're all mortified by it, so absolutely, one hundred percent, it should not be shown... It's not my decision, but if it was my decision then I would say that particular scene shouldn't be shown, and I think that everybody will agree."

However, a spokesman for Top Gear said that images taken by paparazzi gave the impression that they had been filming closer to the memorial than they actually were. He said that all scenes were shot 40 metres away; “a respectful distance away from the Cenotaph and it was all agreed with Westminster council in advance.” 

In addition, an eagle-eyed Twitter user, responding to Sir Roger Moore's criticism of the filming, pointed out that the same stretch of road had been used for a scene in Bond film Skyfall.

In addition, the road - Whitehall - is a public road, with thousands of vehicles passing by, within metres of it, every single day.

A fuss about nothing, or a national disgrace? We're sure the story will rumble on.

Top Gear Cenotaph

(Images: Rex)

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