Top Gear has received criticism from the BBC Trust over footage of presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May drinking gin and tonic cocktails while driving.

The footage was part of the programme's Polar special, in which the pair drive to the magnetic north pole.

Richard Hammond was making the same journey by sled and the brief shot of the pair drinking while driving was contrasting the luxury of travelling by car with Hammond's tougher challenge.

Despite the light-hearted nature of the programme, the BBC Trust's editorial complaints unit found it was wrong to broadcast the footage before the 21:00 watershed.

"The committee considered the scenes carefully and felt that drinking whilst driving did involve the misuse of alcohol," the BBC Trust's report published today states.

Although acknowledging the "entertainment purposes" for which the shot was included, the committee "was nonetheless concerned that, given some children might regard the presenters as role-models, the scenes could be seen to glamorise the misuse of alcohol".

Those managing the complaint, which related to the repeat programme broadcast on July 29th 2007 at 20:00 BST, were less concerned by the inclusion of a frostbitten penis in the same programme.

It admitted the pre-watershed broadcasting of a penis "could be considered offensive even in an entertainment show" but said that as it was only shown "fleetingly" and "not voyeuristically" it could not object to its inclusion.

"The committee concluded that the references to the penis and the momentary image of it on screen was suitable for a family audience given the general style of the programme which mixed humour with fact, and given the audience's expectations for the programme."

A spokesperson for Top Gear said it noted the committee's findings.

02/07/2008 15:32:01