Richard Hammond has been criticised for linking eating ice-cream with being gay on the latest episode of The Grand Tour, the motoring show he co-hosts with Jeremy Clarkson and James May.
The exchange occurred on Happy Finnish Christmas, the sixth episode of the first season of the show, which was released on Amazon Prime on December 23rd.
In front of a live audience, Clarkson pointed to an image of the interior of a Rolls Royce, saying: “The only problem is that in one of those, you couldn’t enjoy a chocolate Magnum ice-cream.”
“It’s all right, I don’t eat ice-cream,” replied Hammond. “It’s something to do with being straight.”
Clarkson and May appeared taken aback as members of the studio audience applauded and cheered.
“Why are you applauding him?” Clarkson, apparently aghast, asked the crowd. “What do you mean? . . . You’re saying all children are homosexual?”
Hammond dug further into his opinion that “ice-cream is a bit, you know”, adding: “There’s nothing wrong with it, but a grown man eating an ice-cream – it’s that way, rather than that way . . . I’m right. I can’t believe you can’t see that. It’s easy. It’s in front of you.”
Clarkson and Hammond then joked about “the chocolate thingy” in a 99 ice-cream cone, with the latter declaring: “My case rests!”
A spokesman for LGBT equality charity Stonewall said Hammond’s choice of words were not only ridiculous, but “chosen purposefully to mock and belittle”.
“Stonewall trains teachers to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic slurs like these, so to hear this sort of language on television is extremely disappointing and sends the wrong message to young people.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "It is a perverse world when an everyday pleasure like ice cream becomes the butt of homophobic innuendo. That Richard Hammond thinks he needs to boast his heterosexuality is weird . . . His pandering to prejudice is bad enough but the audience applause makes it worse. It shows that we still have some way to go to end bigoted banter."
The exchange was also met with disdain on Twitter. "Excuse me while I gag on my Cornetto," tweeted Olly Alexander, the lead singer of British electronic pop trio Years & Years.
Another Twitter user criticised Hammond for choosing to use his platform to crack “a few totally unnecessary jokes about a marginalised group, using stereotypes that don’t even exist”.
Hammond had not responded to any of the criticism on Twitter at the time of writing.
The first episode of The Grand Tour broadcast in late November to much interest from fans of Top Gear, following Hammond, May and Clarkson's departure from the long-running BBC World franchise.
"They open their mouths and suddenly it's same-old same-old," wrote Sam Wollaston in his review of the new show for the Guardian. "Nought to racist in less than 10 minutes."
In the first episode, Clarkson joked that he could not be fired “because we’re on the internet, which means I could pleasure a horse”. On that occasion, Wollaston wrote, it was May and Hammond who looked “faintly embarrassed”.
– (Guardian Service)