The old Top Gear was notable for three things: cars, dad jokes, and pissing people off. The new Chris Evans-led version of the show seems to already have two of those things nailed, with the Ken Block London drift-a-palooza already causing a big controversy in Britain.

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Here’s what happened, according to the BBC: during the recent filming of Block and Matt LeBlanc’s Mustang drifts, the duo did some smoky burnouts in front of The Cenotaph in Whitehall, a national war memorial erected after World War I and one of the country’s most revered sites. They even left skid marks near the section of the memorial that marks women’s contributions to the war effort.

I suppose the American equivalent of this would be doing sick burnouts in front of Arlington National Cemetery. (At least they did it in a car from an allied country and not an AMG Mercedes?) Either way, everyone’s pissed off now, as they are often are at Top Gear:

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A spokesperson for Westminster City Council said in a statement: “What the Top Gear team did on the day was not what had been agreed during the planning process.

“At no time had the BBC producers made Westminster City Council aware that the car was going to be doing anything but drive down Whitehall. There was no discussion about wheel spins and a doughnut and permission would not have been given to do so.”

Evans, for his part, did something his predecessor Jeremy Clarkson rarely ever did: he apologized, quickly and profusely, for the stunt gone wrong. He also promised that part of the segment won’t be shown on TV.

Speaking on Monday morning, Evans said: “That footage will definitely not go on the air, no question about it.”

He added: “We’re all mortified by it, so absolutely, 100% it should not be shown.”

An unfortunate circumstance all around. Is doing donuts in front of a national war memorial in poor taste? Hell yeah it is, but since LeBlanc and Block are both Americans, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here and maybe assume they didn’t really know what they were donut-ing in front of. As for the rest of the BBC Top Gear crew, well, that’s on them.

Here’s to your first public controversy and hopefully many more, new Top Gear! Maybe stay out of Argentina though, just to be safe.


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.