Former Friends star and new Top Gear co-presenter Matt LeBlanc has upset many by performing a wheel spinning stunt just feet away from the revered Cenotaph memorial in London.
The Cenotaph is a memorial to the fallen of World War I in Whitehall, Central London, and Matt LeBlanc, 48, visited the area over the weekend in a car known as the “Hoonigan,” driving alongside racing driver Ken Block.
As reported by People, a video of the incident shows LeBlanc performing multiple wheel spins or “donuts” around the monument, apparently while filming an episode of Top Gear, an incident which has drawn much controversy. The incident can be viewed in the video included here.
Reportedly, the memorial was originally a temporary structure, built to remember the troops who lost their lives in World War I, but it became so popular with the general public it was eventually replaced with a permanent stone, unveiled by King George V in 1920.
These days the Cenotaph is the focal point for Remembrance Sunday every year, held on the closest Sunday to Armistic Day (November 11) and wreaths are laid there in memory of the fallen.
As reported by the International Business Times, Colonel Richard Kemp, a former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, said the stunt next to the Cenotaph was “gravely disrespectful.”
Kemp added, “It beggars belief that they were ever allowed to film here. This is a sacred tribute to millions of people who have done far more for their country than Chris Evans and Matt Le Blanc ever will.”
— People Magazine (@people) March 14, 2016
At first a spokesperson for Top Gear reportedly defended the incident, saying in a statement, “The filming took place a respectful distance away from the Cenotaph and it was all agreed with Westminster council in advance.”
However, even Chancellor George Osborne took to Twitter to criticize the noise made by LeBlanc and the Top Gear team while filming near Downing Street, telling Chris Evans the noise was interfering with his work on Britain’s Budget.
— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) March 13, 2016
However, due to the upset the incident with Matt LeBlanc caused, it seems the footage is not likely to feature in the upcoming season of the popular motoring show. Reportedly Chris Evans, who is the new lead presenter for the BBC Show Top Gear, has since apologized for the incident, which happened over the weekend.
Evans said “That footage will definitely not go on the air, no question about it. It’s not my decision but if it was my decision I would say that particular scene shouldn’t be shown”.
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) March 14, 2016
Reportedly, during filming of the stunt, there were a number of Metropolitan Police officers on duty, although it is thought the Top Gear production company was paying for this additional policing.
The Inquisitr recently reported on various photos that had been leaked on to the Internet, showing the strong relationship which has already formed between Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc. In the filming of that particular episode, LeBlanc and Evans got to ride in a three-wheeled Reliant Robin, which the duo reportedly had to race 230 miles from London to Blackpool. This will apparently feature in the first episode of the new show.
— Radio Times (@RadioTimes) February 23, 2016
The new season of the popular BBC Two show, Top Gear, is due to start in May and will feature Chris Evans as host alongside Matt LeBlanc as co-presenter, as well as motoring journalist Chris Harris, car reviewer Rory Reid, Formula 1 commentator Eddie Jordan, German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, and The Stig.
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]