Assault on our screens

Issue section: 

Fresh from the controversy over splashing out £47 million on bonuses for high-end civil servants, the ministry of defence (MoD) is now under fire for giving the equivalent of 141 days' labour to Jeremy Clarkson for free.

The MoD offered the help in planning Top Gear stunts - alongside loaning the BBC show equipment worth billions of pounds, including an Apache helicopter gunship and a Challenger tank.

The stunts included a "beach assault" on Clarkson, driving a Ford Fiesta, in November 2008. This used 63 days' work from the Royal Marines, several Lynx helicopters and an amphibious landing craft.

"Showcasing our people and equipment on popular television programmes is an excellent way to raise public awareness about the work of the armed forces and to encourage support for our troops," said the MoD in response to the reports, adding that it would be far more expensive to advertise on ITV.

The BBC: public service broadcasting at its best.