London, England - Jeremy Clarkson could be in line for a new £12 million (R208 million) deal with the BBC despite being accused of a string of racist gaffes.
The presenter is said to be in talks over three more years of Top Gear, just weeks after he sparked outrage over his use of the N-word in a TV out-take.
In the clip, Clarkson can be seen swinging a finger between two cars while reciting the rhyme: “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” before mumbling what sounded like “catch a ****** by his toe”.
Reacting to its publication, Clarkson said he was “mortified” and “horrified” when he realised it “did appear that I’d actually used the word I was trying to obscure”.
He added: “Please be assured I did everything in my power to not use that word, and I’m sitting here, begging your forgiveness for the fact that obviously my efforts weren’t quite good enough.”
Clarkson, 54, has since claimed to have been warned that he is ‘drinking in the last chance saloon’ by the BBC.
Despite the row, a BBC source confirmed on Sunday negotiations were still taking place about his new contract.
It is thought the new deal - reported to be as high as £12million - would include a £3 million (R52 million) annual salary from BBC Worldwide, while an additional £1 million (R17 million) would come from the licence fee for each of the three years from 2015 to 2018.
The nursery rhyme row followed an incident in March, when Clarkson joked that a bridge with an Asian walking across it had “a slope on it”.
At the time he was defended by Top Gear producer Andy Wilman, who claimed the presenter was unaware ‘slope’ was an offensive term for Orientals.
Twitter users vented their anger, with one accusing the BBC of giving Clarkson special treatment.
“Jeremy Clarkson at BBC proves it is OK to be racist as long as you make lots of money,” they wrote.
Pippa Smith, of pressure group Safermedia, said: “The BBC should not enter into a further contract with him unless he can give a cast iron guarantee he will use responsible language that is acceptable to all audiences.”
THE GAFFES THAT SHOCKED VIEWERS
The N-word and ‘slope’ episodes are not the only gaffes to have marred Clarkson’s career.
April 2007: Referring to a car made in Malaysia, he said it was built by “jungle people who wear leaves as shoes”.
October 2009: He claimed TV producers were obsessed with having “black Muslim lesbians” on screen.
January 2012: He compared synchronised swimming to the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004.
January 2012: Clarkson mocked the clothing, trains and food in India, as he ridiculed the country’s sanitation by driving a Jaguar fitted with a toilet through the slums.
April 2014: He took to Twitter to introduce his new dog - a black terrier he named Didier Dogba after the former Chelsea footballer.