Clarkson’s joke was cleared by the BBC

Jeremy Clarkson‘s controversial comment that striking public sector workers should be shot was reportedly cleared by BBC bosses before it was made live on television.

The 51-year-old Top Gear presenter has been roundly criticised after he made a series of outlandish claims about public servants,suggesting that they should be executed for going on strike over their “gilt-edged pensions”.

His comments were condemned by prime minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband, while public sector union UNISON has called for the BBC to terminate his employment.

Around 5,000 viewers are also understood to have complained about the statements made onThe One Show while Clarkson was promoting his new Christmas DVD.

The controversy was so big that “Jeremy Clarkson” was the highest trending topic in the UK on micro-blogging site Twitter, and the fourth most-discussed issue worldwide.

Both Clarkson and the BBC have apologised for the controversial joke, but the corporation is facing fresh questions today after Clarkson claimed that he warned producers in advance and gained approval for the comments.

Speaking to The Times, Clarkson said that he had informed the production team of  The One Show of the details of what he was going to say, which he insists was only intended as a joke remark.

The Times said that the show’s producers felt that it would be entertaining if Clarkson offered an alternative view on the industrial action, but it was not meant to be taken so seriously.