Jeremy Clarkson was no stranger to controversy during his time as Top Gear host and the motoring show is under fire once more – but this time former Friends star Matt LeBlanc is taking the heat. The programme makers have been accused of disrespecting the armed forces after the new host and his rally driving partner performed wheel spins just yards from the Cenotaph.

Recording for the £650,000-an-episode ($934,000) show brought the capital to a standstill, with roads closed for two consecutive days. Heavy tyre marks were left outside the Houses of Parliament and in Whitehall and motorists were hit with delays as Tower Bridge was shut earlier in the day for filming.

Scenes for the new series of Top Gear caused such a commotion, that Chancellor George Osborne felt compelled to tweet lead presenter Chris Evans, asking him to keep the noise down.

Colonel Richard Kemp, a former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, criticised the decision to film in Whitehall saying: "It is gravely disrespectful. 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.

"The BBC certainly should not have done this in the first place and I would urge them to make sure this does not appear in the final programme," he added.

A day earlier rally driver Ken Block was filmed gatecrashing a wedding at St Paul's Cathedral with LeBlanc in the passenger seat. The Friends actor later shared a picture of himself with a car holding up traffic in Canary Wharf.

A number of Metropolitan Police officers have been assisting with the filming, though it is understood that the production company is paying for the extra policing.

A spokesman said: "All filming was agreed in advance with Westminster council and took place a respectful distance away from the cenotaph." The BBC said it would clean up the tyre marks.

The new series of the BBC Two show is due to start in May. The line-up includes LeBlanc, Chris Evans, Formula 1 commentator Eddie Jordan, German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, motoring journalist Chris Harris, car reviewer Rory Reid and The Stig.