Monday, March 14, 2016

Undue Deference

There has been a furore about the latest piece of yobbish behaviour from the retreaded Top Gear. According to some reports the local authority gave permission for stunt driving on public roads, in Central London including screaming power slides and spins. Top Gear has access to a disused airfield at Dunsfold in Surrey, which leaves even less excuse for using the highway.

The cringing deference that too many in authority show towards famous stars when cameras appear is distantly redolent of the Savile case when fame caused people to suspend their judgment of a serial offender.

Quite apart from the extraordinary driving (skilled as the drivers may be) that would count as Dangerous Driving in any court, I very much doubt whether the souped-up machines featured would pass the Construction and Use regulations. Finally, some film that I have seen shows a car sliding perilously close to un- marshalled spectators: something that would never be allowed in a properly organised motorsport event.

Trying to out-yob Clarkson is a tough call, and the BBC should not do it.


  1. My understanding is that Westminster Council only gave permission for a 'drive by' and did not know that various stunts would be happening. I also wonder whether Mr LeBlanc would think doing donuts around the Washington Monument or the 9/11 Memorial in New York would be a good idea...

  2. This was a private event on a closed road. I'm not defending their proximity to the cenoptaph, but film companies film in central London all the time, and that often involves closing roads car chases and stunts which would obviously be illegal on an open public road. It's a major source of income for the local authorities.

    If you're saying that nobody should be allowed to close roads in London (or other cities) for private events, that's fair enough. I think to moan about laws which don't apply on a closed road because you don't like this particular programme is a little unfair.

  3. If the council has agreed to close a road or roads for the purpose of filming car stunts or whatever else, then the usual laws as they would apply if the road were open would not apply.

    As I understand that there is some doubt or debate as to exactly what the council thought it was agreeing to, and whether this included what was actually done.

    In any event and notwithstanding the above, whilst I am quite sure that the participants had no intention to cause offence or to show disrespect to the Cenotaph, it does demonstrate the sort of ill-judgement that those in the entertainment business are famous for. It simply wouldn't have occurred to any of them that it was a stupid thing to do.

  4. Notwithstanding that the participants may not have intended to cause offence or show any disrespect the fact is that they did , and what is worse they may not care !

  5. As I watched first the Belgian and then the French special forces race past in Brussels today, I wondered at the British capacity to get exercised about a TV crew's antics (the lead story not only on Bystander's blog, but on the BBC too). We are fortunate indeed.

  6. Do you really think the soldiers, sailors and airpersons who's sacrifice is represented by the Cenotaph would really be ranting and raving about this, or would most see it a harmless stunt to be enjoyed by a free people. I suspect we are hearing the massed bands of the professional whiners and axe grinders here.

    1. Who can say what the fallen may have made of it, or indeed any aspect of live in the 21st century. What we can say is that a significant number of those who survived the war were very upset. They had a right to be.

  7. Bah humbug.

    This is something I don't like, therefore it shouldn't be allowed.

    There speaks a true pseudo liberal!

  8. It worries me that a magistrate would be taken in by another tabloid press scam. The action was not near the memorials...this is taken on a long lens. The council did know what the action was (I have seen the safety documents). The team are very expert and many specialists are employed to oversee the work. TV and film create a fantasy...that means it's not real. I doubt if anyone would have batted an eyelid if a James Bond film was being made (this has happened) but to write an anti Bbc story for commercial reasons means this was in the papers. Also, to conflate this with savile from 40 years ago, shows an ignorance not befitting of a magestrates role. Most of his offences were on NHS premises by the way where he was given keys to assist his offending.


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