SHAMED TOP GEAR STAR SAYS SORRY TO BROWN; Sounding Off: Jeremy Clarkson at the Sydney Press Conference

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Byline: Alan Roden

TOP Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was forced to apologise last night after branding Gordon Brown a 'one-eyed Scottish idiot'.

The extraordinary insult triggered a storm of protest as the BBC faced growing calls to axe one of its most controversial and highest paid stars.

This week, Carol Thatcher was dumped by the Corporation for using the word 'golliwog' in a private conversation.

But BBC bosses have refused to take any action against Clarkson for his anti-Scottish comments.

Last night, it was accused of losing control of its top stars and being 'clueless' as to its public duty.

First Minister Alex Salmond also foolish' and a 'clown'. Labour peer and Lothians MSP George Foulkes, a close friend of the Prime Minister, insisted that Clarkson should be suspended for his 'racist' comments, adding: 'It was part of the insult - like calling someone a Paki.' Clarkson, 48, who is paid [pounds sterling]2million a year, compared the Prime Minister with Australian premier Kevin Rudd while speaking at a press conference in Sydney - shortly after Mr Rudd had addressed the country on the global financial crisis.

The presenter said: 'It's the first time I've ever seen a world leader admit we really are in deep s*** . He genuinely looked terrified. I thought, the poor man, he's actually seen the books. 'In England, we have this one-eyed Scottish idiot, the one-eyed Scottish man, he keeps telling us everything's fine and he's saved the world and we know he's lying but he's smooth at telling us.' He then said to co-star Richard Hammond: 'I said that out loud, didn't I?', before laughing the situation off. Clarkson also insulted Top Gear fans , describing those who come to the studios as 'apes'.

And he talked about the programme's motorcycle stuntmen, saying: 'They're French, so if they killed it's not the end of the world.' Mr Brown lost his sight in one eye after an accident playing rugby as a teenager. As the row intensified last night, a statement was issued through BBC Worldwide in which Clarkson said: 'In the heat of the moment, I made a remark about the Prime Minister's personal appearance, for which, upon reflection, I apologise.' Lord Foulkes said he was still furious with the 'gratuitous' comments, which he called 'unacceptable' for a BBC presenter.

He added: 'If the BBC banned Jonathan Ross for what he said and have taken Carol Thatcher off air for something she said in private, then something should be done about Clarkson. 'He has insulted Gordon Brown three times over: accusing him of being a liar, having a go at him for having a physical handicap and for his nationality. …