The Observer (Kampala)

28 February 2013

Uganda: Top Gear Uganda This Sunday

The crew of what is believed to be the world's greatest automotive show, Top Gear, was here late last year filming in Fort Portal, Garuga, Jinja and Kampala. Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond may not be well known in Uganda but their presence here went viral on social media last year as Top Gear approximately has 350 million viewers per week.

The programme began in 1977 as a motoring magazine show but over time, especially since its relaunch in 2002, it has developed a quirky, humorous and somewhat controversial style of the trio. Ugandan scan, therefore expect a boost in the already fast-rising tourism sector after the episode because Top Gear is viewed in 170 countries.

However, we should not put our hopes too high lest Uganda is not well-represented in the show. The trio (Clarkson, Hammond and May) has been criticised for being politically incorrect, homophobic and casually racist. In January 2012, for example, the Indian High Commission in London wrote to BBC complaining about the "toilet humour" in the special on India.

One Indian diplomat criticised a scene in the 90-minute show which showed presenter Clarkson taking off his trousers at a party to demonstrate how to use a trouser press. And previously, in April 2011, Top Gear had another gaffe: the presenters branded Mexicans lazy and described their food "like sick with cheese on it".

Clarkson had more to say with his acerbic tongue. In his 2011 column, My daughter and I stepped over the body and into a brothel, about Uganda, was also controversial. He wrote about how he and his daughter stepped over a dead body into a 10ft by 10ft brothel, coming face to face with Uganda's biting poverty.

He further claimed that during his two-hour walk, he didn't see a girl under 18 because they did not survive Aids and/or are raped and beheaded by witchdoctors. Incidentally, Clarkson did not mention dining at plush Serena hotel, Emin Pasha, Speke Resort, Paraa and Chobe lodges last year.

So as you tune into BBC 2 on Sunday evening, prepare for a lot of surprises because they may not be all good.

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