The BBC is expected to scrap the remainder of the current Top Gear TV series after allegations that presenter Jeremy Clarkson punched a producer. What does this mean for the future of the show? Dom Kureen takes a look.
In isolation it sounded like handbags at dawn. A beleaguered Jeremy Clarkson laying one of his hammy fists into the mush of a producer he’d take umbrage with. Boys will be boys after all.
Therein lies the problem. This was far from isolated, in fact it was simply the latest in a catalogue of incidents that played catalyst in loosening the lips of former confidants, who universally disclose that (shock horror) the Top Gear anchor is a bit of a knuckle dragging chauvinist when the cameras stop rolling.
Anyone subjected to Jezza’s Sun newspaper column will know that he employs a simple formula; find out what the majority of people are passionately in favour of and then embrace the polar opposite – subscribing to the ‘all publicity is good publicity’ philosophy usually exercised by boxing promoters.
It’s therefore no surprise that the equally vindictive Katie Hopkins, also now a Sun columnist, was one of the first to express an impassioned defence of Clarkson via her Twitter account, despite knowing nothing about the incident: “Clarkson suspended by BBC. I don’t care what he said. Clarkson all the way. #TopGear #topbloke.”
She didn’t care what he’d said; chatted up a school kid, told a suicidal person that they were scum during a stint with the Samaritans, spat on the floor and ordered his confused 93 year-old mother to swim in it… It didn’t matter to Hopkins ‘cos Clarko’s a top bloke innit, half a pint for the missus, I’m off to shout at foreigners. #Propamen.
It isn’t just Hopkins though. To date more than 250,000 signatures demanding the reinstatement of Clarkson have been accrued, so why are people so desperate to see this loathsome man go unpunished when he continuously acts in the vein of a spoiled brat who knows his parents are afraid to spank his bottom?
Without Clarkson there is no Top Gear, he is the chief who holds the programme together with boundary teasing, caustic wit and a how-to guide re:sarcasm. Forget tittle-tattle about the odious Piers Morgan being a ready made replacement, or the even further fetched speculation that Hopkins herself could step into the breach –Top Gear needs Clarkson.
Of course Clarkson also needs Top Gear, his chat show ‘Clarkson’ was a complete shambles that lurched through two series from 1998-2000, with his lack of knowledge on anything other than a few select topics immediately transparent, and his derisive inquisition technique wearing thin in lieu of the gentle distractions of Richard Hammond and James May to compensate.
He may be painfully one dimensional at times, and a bit of a second rate human being according to steams of first hand accounts, but the BBC’s leading execs are well aware that without their flagship presenter for their flagship show they’ll have a far more difficult time justifying the annual license fee; there’s only so long they can string out another member of the Beale clan snuffing it on Eastenders.
Thus, I sit firmly in the ‘get the w**ker back on TV’ camp.
Visualise the new series of ‘Tepid Top Gear’ with Messrs Hammond and May at the helm. Even with a brand new host it would be like trying to recapture lightning in a bottle, which is what Clarkson, May and Hammond have achieved organically.
Top Gear is a formula that should have grown stale, but with the chemistry of the main cast, a conveyor belt of new cars to test, and it’s expanding global audience it continues to excel.
Clarkson’s Top Gear Rap Sheet
The show’s stars and crew had to abandon filming in Argentina amid angry protests over a car number plate that appeared to refer to the Falklands War.
Ofcom ruled a Burma Special in which Jeremy Clarkson used a racial slur broke broadcasting rules. Clarkson had used the word “slope” as an Asian man crossed a newly built bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand.
The programme drew complaints when video footage leaked to the Daily Mirror appeared to show Clarkson using a racist term while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe. The presenter later apologised for the incident – which was never broadcast – in a video statement where he begged forgiveness.
The BBC Trust ruled comments by Clarkson which likened the design of a camper van with facial disfigurements breached disability guidelines.
Indian diplomats complained about a 90-minute India special in which a car fitted with a toilet in its boot is described by Clarkson as “perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots.”
The BBC apologised to Mexico after Clarkson and his co-hosts characterised Mexicans as “lazy” and “feckless”.
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