Jeremy Clarkson Suspended from Top Gear
The motoring world is abuzz with the news that Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended from his job as presenter of Top Gear.
The BBC announced that Clarkson had been involved in what it termed a 'fracas' with a Top Gear producer, believed to be Oisin Tymon. The broadcaster then took the decision to cancel or postpone the last two episodes of the popular TV series, including the series finale. The incident was the latest in a series of events which had led to Clarkson being given a 'final warning'. This final warning was the result of complaints after the presenter was alleged to have used a derogatory term for south-east Asian people. The team were building a 'bridge across the River Kwai' as part of one of their famous epic challenges. On completion, a local man was filmed walking on the bridge, and Jeremy was heard to say that that there was a 'slope' on it - apparently an insulting term.
Clarkson has been involved in a serious of incidents before this episode. He has been filmed making comments about Muslim women in burkas and compared a Ferrari to a special-needs child. He was also heard using the 'N' word while reciting a popular nursery rhyme. In an interview, he suggested killing striking public-sector workers in front of their children, and during a challenge to drive to the North Pole he enraged road-safety campaigners by being filmed drinking a gin and tonic behind the wheel. While he was clearly not on a public road at the time, and therefore no crime was being committed, viewers complained that he was glamorising drink-driving. One of his most famous controversies was when he suggested during a show that 'murdering a prostitute' was part of the daily work of lorry drivers. This was a reference to the serial killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper, who had worked as a lorry driver.
His most recent problems before this latest 'fracas' took place occurred when the Top Gear team visited Argentina for a challenge. As usual, they were being filmed driving a selection of cars, but it was soon reported in Argentina that the one Jeremy was driving, a Porsche, had a number plate that was a reference to the Falklands War. This was never substantiated as a deliberate gag, and the show's producers insisted that any interpretation of the number plate was simply an unfortunate coincidence. Nevertheless, the Top Gear team was seen being hounded out of the country amid violent and frightening protests.
The latest 'fracas' is said to have occurred when the production team arrived late at their hotel while filming on location. Clarkson is alleged to have demanded a steak for dinner but was told that the kitchen was closed. The producer offered him a choice of cold platters of cheese and meats instead. Clarkson is said to have been furious and a scuffle occurred, during which onlookers say there was much shouting, swearing and pushing but no actual violence. Nevertheless, Clarkson was suspended.
Reaction to the Top Gear presenter's suspension has been incredible, with even Prime Minister David Cameron commenting on the issue. The director-general of the BBC, Lord Hall, has now said that he will personally oversee the investigation into Clarkson's latest antics.
If they decide Clarkson has to go, it would be a huge decision for the BBC with enormous financial implications. Top Gear is by far the broadcaster's biggest money spinner, selling to many overseas markets and spawning lucrative licensed franchised shows across the globe. There is also significant revenue from merchandising and Top Gear live road shows. Much of this extraordinary success is due to the chemistry between the presenters and the irreverent and sometimes edgy humour of Jeremy Clarkson. It now remains to be seen whether the very laddish humour that has made the show a success proves to be its downfall.