Top Gear host Chris Evans has apologised “unreservedly” after co-host Matt LeBlanc and Ken Block were filmed performing doughnuts and drifting near Britain’s best-known war memorial. Evans said that they were “unwise” to film close to the Cenotaph, a stone monument to Britain’s war dead near Parliament in central London.
Richard Kemp, a retired army officer, called the stunt “gravely disrespectful.”
“It’s worse than doing a stunt in a cemetery and screaming round people’s graves,” the former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan said. “It’s a shocking desecration of one of our most sacred sites. The BBC should apologise and cut that part of the show.”
During the stunt, LeBlanc and professional rally driver Ken Block surprised a bride and groom and their wedding guests at St Paul’s Cathedral near the Cenotaph as they motored past, with the former Friends star sticking his arm out of the car window to wave. The BBC said photos made the car appear closer to the monument than it really was, but Evans said he understood why some people were angry.
He said Monday that “on behalf of the Top Gear team and Matt, I would like to apologise unreservedly for what these images seem to portray.”
The Sun has reported that Evans has called for the BBC never to air the scenes, saying the team was “mortified” by the reaction to the stunt. “I think the images are terrible, they look so disrespectful. I saw the images this morning for the first time and I felt the same as everybody else. This is not a good story, no. That footage will definitely not go on the air, no question about it. That’s not my decision but if that was my decision then I would say that particular scene should not be shown,” he said.
Evans’ apology puts him at odds once again with Top Gear bosses, who tried to defend the stunt, saying: “The activity actually took place around 40 metres away from the Cenotaph. All agreed in advance.”
Quentin Willson: Jeremy Clarkson wouldn’t have allowed Cenotaph Top Gear stunt
Former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson says he and Jeremy Clarkson would never have recorded a stunt near the Cenotaph in London, saying the “doughnuts” in Westminster crossed a line in his view.
“Between us we have this gentlemanly respect for things like that. Say what you like about him, there is a line.”