The BBC has rebuked presenter Jeremy Clarkson for using racist language while filming car show Top Gear - one of the most popular and profitable TV programmes in the world - but dismissed calls for his resignation.
Clarkson, 54, apologised after a newspaper report this week revealed he used an epithet for blacks while reciting the rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe to choose between cars while filming two years ago.
The presenter released a video on Twitter on Thursday apologising and saying he had tried to avoid the racist expression used in a well-known older version of the rhyme.
He said he recorded three takes, mumbling the word "nigger" in two versions and substituting it with "teacher" in a third, and only realised later the word could be heard clearly in one take.
"I was mortified by this, horrified. I did everything in my power to make sure that version did not appear in the programme," said Clarkson.
"As I am sitting here begging your forgiveness for the fact ... obviously my efforts weren't quite good enough." The version did not appear on the show.
The revelation prompted calls for Clarkson to resign or be sacked by the BBC, which is publicly funded.
"I don't think the taxpayer should be subjected to people like Jeremy Clarkson who uses and insults people by his comments. It is time for him to go," opposition Labour lawmaker Jim Sheridan said yesterday.
A BBC spokeswoman said the corporation had spoken to Clarkson. "We have left him in no doubt about how seriously we view this," she said.