The BBC has stood by Jeremy Clarkson after his Top Gear comments were branded blasphemous by a UK vicar.
Clarkson was filmed shouting “Jesus wept” while driving a KTM X-bow open top sports car in an episode that was broadcast earlier this month.
He also said: “God Almighty” while driving a Bentley powered by a Spitfire engine.
Reverend Graeme Anderson, 52, from St Mary’s Church in Radcliffe-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire complained to the BBC.
“I think Jeremy Clarkson is one of the most articulate people I have ever heard, and I loved watching his show. I thought Top Gear was great before this,” he said.
“But on this occasion, I found his comments very, very offensive and I think many Christians would also.”
But the BBC, which has had to apologise a number of times for offence, this time backed its presenter.
In a statement, it said: “We’re aware that blasphemous language, including the casual or derogatory use of holy names or religious words, can be a source of particular offence to some members of the audience, but judgements about its use are difficult because they depend on tone and context.
“There is no consensus about words that are acceptable, when, and by whom, as different words cause different degrees of offence to different people. Some of the words and phrases that can cause offence have, whether we like it or not, become part of everyday language and it would be unrealistic for broadcasters to suggest they are not widely used in a range of contexts.
“We do however respect the fundamental human right to exercise freedom of thought, conscience and religion, this includes an individual’s freedom to worship, teach, practise and observe. While we also have a duty to reflect society as it really is, we try to ensure our output is not used to denigrate the beliefs of others.”