11:41 19 November 2009
It has been revealed that military personnel have spent the equivalent of more than 140 days taking part in stunts on the BBC motoring show Top Gear, prompting critics to state that their contribution is a waste of time, money and manpower while ongoing conflicts rage in Afghanistan.
However, the controversy was shunned by the MoD who claims that the hit show was an efficient method of raising public awareness for the Armed Forces.
Following a Freedom of Information Act request, the MoD revealed that military personnel were involved in filming for the equivalent of 141 days and civilian officials spent 48 days working on items for the programme, while equipment worth billions of pounds was adopted.
Some examples include an Apache helicopter gunship attempting to get a missile lock on a speeding Lotus Exige sports car driven by host Jeremy Clarkson in 2004.
2005 saw Clarkson avoiding sniper fire while testing a Porsche Boxster and a Mercedes SLK. He also took on a Challenger tank with a Range Rover.
In 2007, a RAF Typhoon raced a Bugatti Veyron, while the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was used as a backdrop for a piece on the Rolls Royce Phantom.
In an attempt to prove that Top Gear can review more restrained vehicles, Clarkson took part in a beach assault alongside Royal Marines while driving a Ford Fiesta.
A spokesman said that "in no circumstances'' were resources diverted from operations for the events.
The spokesman continued: "The filming utilised scheduled training hours and resources which would have been consumed irrespective of the BBC filming or not, and were therefore used at no additional cost to MoD
"Having these events appear on one of the most popular television programmes in the UK was an excellent opportunity to raise public awareness of the Armed Forces and enable greater understanding and support for our sailors, soldiers and aircrew."
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