Jeremy Clarkson, co-host of the BBC's internationally broadcast car show Top Gear, found himself in hot water on Friday for his admitted use of the n-word in unaired footage from several years ago.
In the video, Clarkson appears to mumble the racist version of the nursery rhyme, "eeny, meeny, miney, mo," including the n-word, when trying to choose between two cars.
At first, Clarkson denied using the slur.
"I did not use the n word. Never use it. The Mirror has gone way too far this time," he tweeted Friday.
When the Mirror published the footage in question -- and "hired a firm of audio forensic experts to analyze the clip" -- Clarkson backtracked and apologized.
"I was mortified by this. It is a word I loathe,” he said in a video posted to his Twitter account. “Please be assured I did everything in my power to not use that word, and as I’m sitting here begging your forgiveness, for the fact that obviously my efforts weren’t quite good enough."
Clarkson explained that he absent-mindedly used the n-word from "the best known version of this rhyme."
“When I viewed this footage several weeks later, I realized that in one of the mumbled versions, if you listen very carefully with the sound turned right up, it did appear that I’d actually used the word I was trying to obscure," he said.
Clarkson said he asked production not to use the footage in a note that read, “I didn’t use the n-word here, but I’ve just listened through my headphones and it sounds like I did. Is there another take we could use?”
“I did everything in my power to ensure that that word did not get in the program that was transmitted," he said.
Here's Clarkson's statement:
The BBC said in a statement that the network had left Clarkson "in no doubt about how seriously we view this."