All Sections

BBC drops Jeremy Clarkson but says Top Gear show must go on

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed in light of the ‘fracas’ between him and BBC producer Oisin Tymon, it has emerged.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said in an official media statement: “It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and Oisin Tymon.” 

“I am grateful to Ken MacQuarrie for the thorough way he has conducted an investigation of the incident on 4th March. Given the obvious and very genuine public interest in this I am publishing the findings of his report. 

“I take no pleasure in doing so. I am only making them public so people can better understand the background. I know how popular the programme is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion. The main facts are not disputed by those involved.” 

The report – undertaken by Ken MacQuarrie – concluded that Tymon had taken himself to Accident and Emergency after a ‘physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature’.

The incident happened in a Yorkshire hotel after filming in Newcastle during the day. The BBC report said Clarkson threatened Tymon’s job after subjecting him to a 30-second long ‘physical attack’ that was broken up by a witness.

There was also very loud shouting of the ‘strongest expletives’, which could be heard throughout the hotel, for a ‘sustained’ period of time.

54-year-old Clarkson, who is in the midst of a divorce and mourning the loss of his mother, made multiple attempts to apologise to Tymon and reported the incident to BBC management.

The director-general admitted there cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another regardless of ‘rank, public relations and commercial considerations’. He also pointed that Tymon is in no way to blame for the incident and that he had ‘behaved with huge integrity throughout’.

The BBC did, however, say it is now focussing on renewing Top Gear for 2016 and that it will find a way to air the last programmes in the current series. A replacement for Clarkson and company is never mentioned.

Hall said it had been a ‘difficult’ decision, acknowledging the ‘extraordinary contribution’ Clarkson has made to the BBC.

“He is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC bit I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come,” Hall said.

Co-presenters James ‘Captain Slow’ May and Richard ‘Hamster’ Hammond said they would not be a part of Top Gear so long as Jeremy is out of the show, which means Top Gear as we know it is dead and buried.

It was always a lose/lose situation for the Beeb. Top Gear is said to bring in £50 million a year from licensing, is watched by more than 350 million people in 214 countries worldwide and has three million YouTube subscribers. To indirectly kill the show was never going to be a popular decision.

It helped little that a petition for the controversial presenter’s reinstatement by Guido Fawkes reached one million signatures, something Clarkson said he was ‘very touched’ by on Twitter. Even Prime Minister David Cameron came to his defence.

But to let Clarkson stay, having caused another BBC employee physical harm, would have looked like a serious case of double-standards, which is hardly what it wants to appear to be doing in light of the Jimmy Savile saga.

Clarkson and executive producer Andy Wilman reinvented Top Gear in 2002, a year after the motoring show was axed by the BBC. It focussed on car reviews and motoring advice before it came back as an entertainment show.

Clarkson began his presenting role on the show, which started out in 1977 on BBC Midlands, in 1988. More than 170 episodes have been made since the relaunch.

The original cast for the relaunched show was Clarkson, Richard Hammond and Jason Dawe. Dawe was replaced by James May for the second series.

Clarkson is yet to comment but has changed his since adjusted his Twitter bio: “I used to be a presenter on the BBC2 motoring show.”

James May labelled Clarkson’s sacking a “tragedy”. Speaking to a Sky news reporter, May also hinted his Top Gear days are over: “I’m sure Top Gear will continue in some way, it existed before us, it’s been reformatted several times before.”

He added: “It’s very much the three of us as a package, it works for very complicated reasons that a lot of people don’t fully understand. As much as I think he’s a knob, I quite like working with Jeremy.”

Hammond was equally cryptic in his comments: “Gutted at such a sad end to an era. We’re all three of us idiots in our different ways but it’s been an incredible ride together.”

Physical violence is never a good thing unless in self-defence. With that said, in these sensitive times where you can be crucified for a slip of the tongue or for having an opinion, Top Gear and its idiotic trio will be sorely missed.

The question, then, is where will Clarkson end up? We rounded up a few of the more likely options.

Comments