Complaints to the BBC passed 500 after Jeremy Clarkson sparked fresh controversy by joking about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes.

The Top Gear presenter, 48, made the quip about truckers killing sex workers as the motoring show returned to BBC Two on Sunday night.

As he completed a lorry-driving challenge, Clarkson said: “This is a hard job and I’m not just saying that to win favour with lorry drivers, it’s a hard job.

“Change gear, change gear, change gear, check mirror, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That’s a lot of effort in a day.”

In February, serial killer Steve Wright, a former lorry driver, was convicted of murdering five prostitutes in Ipswich.

Clarkson’s remark has so far attracted 517 complaints to the BBC, out of a total audience the Corporation said was seven million viewers.

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it had been contacted by viewers angry at the remarks.

A spokesman said: “Ofcom has received complaints regarding Top Gear. These complaints are currently being assessed against the Broadcasting Code.

“All UK broadcasters must adhere to Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code which sets standards for the content of television and radio broadcasting.”

Clarkson’s comments come just a week after Russell Brand resigned and Jonathan Ross was suspended from the BBC for making lewd prank calls to veteran actor Andrew Sachs.