Blog : Clarkson – has the BBC Terminator reached its Judgment Day?

Mike Humble

Clarkson's "Rumble in the Cotswolds" seems to be drawing to a conclusion - Image: BBC
Clarkson’s “Rumble in the Cotswolds” seems to be drawing to a conclusion – Image: BBC

Well, is today the judgment day as reported news arrives that J.C has been ordered to F.O. So does this come as a shock and as surprise? Well, not really in all fairness though I’m sure the case hardened Top Gear fans will argue otherwise. In a personal experience, I once had a blazing row with an employer (not over steak and chips, though) and my own refusal to accept his opinion (which was wrong for the record) caused the scenario to boil over worse than an unloved MGF. The end result was tea and biscuits – with no tea available and a distinct lack of something to dunk into it.

Like him or loath him his actions are/were a sackable offence – if Auntie was not to chastise him in any way, then that would make someone almost seem like an untouchable God. That would be an offence far more severe than anything Clarkson could achieve, would it not? I am drawn to a quote from Sir Michael Edwardes during his horn locking with British Leyland strikers, whereby he stated ‘managers MUST reserve the right to manage” and the BBC have done such and, on face value, they have made the right decision. Otherwise, the floodgates up and down the land would open up to those who think the best way to put a point across to their line manager is by means of a punch up the conk.

Not being remotely into conspiracy theories, but there could well have been a touch of deliberacy to all of this. Clarkson has more than once bemoaned the changing attitude and face of the BBC and, just like a wounded animal, if you poke it enough, it’s bound to lash out and bite. Don’t, for once, even think that his job as a writer and presenter is a walk in the park in springtime either. Driving sideways in a cool fast car is merely the payoff for the long hours of script rehearsals, planning, making sure the presentation is right, the weather is right, the car is right and then putting your thoughts onto the keyboard.

If you think this is easy, then mark my words… it’s not. In fact, sometimes it’s nigh on impossible when travelling along the never-ending road of perfection. Whatever your thoughts about Top Gear may be, its post-production, cinematography and the finished item are glorious to behold and, if you are still unconvinced, watch it with the sound turned down – the visual effects and camera trickery often better a blockbuster movie. Clarkson may well have simply had enough of the petty bureaucracy and tinkering of the BBC. I know a good few people who work and have worked within its ranks that can tell me a good few tales of woe and just how demoralised internal morale can be.

However, that’s no excuse for lashing out at a producer – I’m just inclined to think that the lack of a hot meal was the final straw which broke the South Yorkshireman’s back. But equally inexcusable is the press reaction to the sacking of Jeremy – only just this morning, I read with anger a piece in The Telegraph by Bill Borrows which was absolutely disgusting. Almost making mockery of his name, his background and his failed marriages, it seems that the knife was in before any official BBC statement has been made – read and judge yourself by clicking here.

But there’s nothing like kicking a man when he’s down regardless of him deserving the push. I would have expected this in the tabloids but The Telegraph? I hang my head with sorrow. Yet Jeremy seems to be far from bothered though he has stated his thanks for the public support. His money is made and his smartphone contains all the numbers of who’s who in the motoring and media circles – Top Gear may just be another chapter in his life. Few things are guaranteed in this world, but one thing is a dead certainty – he will never be short of a job or a word to say, regardless of opinion, the man is remarkably talented both as a presenter and a wordsmith – it all just grew beyond a manageable size.

So it is with reluctance when I say that it was the British Broadcasting Corporation who created the monster, and it’s down to them to slay it. Purely as a consequence of his recent action, I think the BBC were right – if this proves to be the “confirmed” outcome. But then there is the thorny issue of who will replace him or if there will be any more episodes of Top Gear. The pundits are throwing around Chris Evans as the man for the job of which I disagree firmly with. If you want a figure that annoys the public in equal measures to delighting them, they’d be better off keeping Clarkson in my opinion.

Forget your Suzuki Liana, Chevy Lacetti or Vauxhall Astra. I'll throw in the 75 for the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car!
Forget your Suzuki Liana, Chevy Lacetti or Vauxhall Astra. I’ll throw in the 75 for the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car! It may post a 2:00+ minute lap time but, if nothing else, it’ll raise a smile

But this is just my opinion, after all, and does not necessarily reflect that of the BBC or AROnline. However, if a vacancy does pop up on Top Gear, I’d be happy to help and even throw in some hand-picked co-presenters… The Top Gear Test Track is only 7 miles up the road from my house, too – I could almost guarantee I wouldn’t be late in the mornings. I would also promise to bring back a foot-on-bumper sign off at the end of the show and offer free tea and coffee to the audience with piping hot water provided from my neighbours’ broken K-Series – if that’s not a solution, then I don’t know what is!

A star in a reasonably priced Rover 75 1.8 Club SE anyone?

Mike Humble


  1. Would it not be a better idea to refrain from speculation about what happened , and wait for actual evidence ?

  2. As as 14.15hrs on the 25/03/15 I have seen no official statement that he has been sacked, in fact the BBC have said they have not reached a decision yet. Do you have another official source or is it still supposition?

  3. EDIT: Ruddy hell that was quick off the mark, was the ARO finger wavering over the post button as it was announced!! LOL!!!

  4. Well Cookie…. As the late Derek Jameson once said “you’ve gotta get up early to catch me”

    But to be fair, I do make a point in the article that it was not a done deal at the time of writing. Lets be honest though kids… Was there anywhere else for the BBC to go with this one?

  5. The BBC web home page states that the N Yorks Police are involved, does this mean JC may be charged with assault?

  6. Well I don’t mind the odd car vs. public transport race especially in lovely locations, but I do miss the down to earth road tests Top Gear used to do, you know, of cars the public might actually buy.

    Even after the Clarkson, May & Hammond reboot they used to drive ordinary cars. Hopefully this might bring about a change from the immature cocking about and car destroying antics of late.


    But let’s face it, he’ll be back somewhere; with, or without the rest of the crew. (but probably not the same director)

  8. The phrase “the bigger they come, the harder they fall” springs to mind.

    No matter why he hit his producer, there is only so much that one corporation can put up with. If they didn’t sack him, some oik much further down the ranks could hit his boss, and plead “it’s OK, Jezza did it”.

  9. and what will become of James May and Richard Hammond?, Plus the legal action by JC over the Jimmmy Saville smear

  10. It’s most likely Clarkson will find a new home. I bet Channel 5, who have reasonable form with producing car programmes, are on the phone now. At least on Channel 5 he’ll be free of the notorious BBC bureaucracy and compliance guidelines and signing him for a new show would be a massive coup for the channel.
    However, I don’t condone what he did to the producer. In most jobs, if you use obscene language and assault a member of staff, you’d be dismissed. Clarkson should realise he’s not above the law and wherever he goes now, he’s on probation. Yet should this blow over and he makes a full apology, I can see his career continuing outside the BBC.

  11. Could have put that better myself.
    The only person to blame is Clarkson and the BBC is right to sack him, regardless of any opinion on his views etc. he physically assaulted a colleague, gross misconduct in anyone’s book.
    Without malice, I hope he does get prosecuted, if only to teach the general public that assault is assault, also to compensate the guy who got hit.

  12. Let’s hope Clarkson doesn’t totally lower himself and appear on the next series of Celebrity Big Brother, which I read has been renewed for another three years.

  13. A shame for it to end like this, but he made it very difficult for the BBC not to sack him.
    The show is still enjoyable, but they were running out of ideas, so maybe it was time for some fresh blood. I bet there are some motoring journalists out there dreaming of getting the job!

  14. Well sorry, I found TG a big turn off. Plus it would seem he has not been sacked but will not have his contract renewed, a subtle difference. As a role model JC has presented a very poor example.

    If he does go to another channel – and I have read in his contract that he cannot do a similar kind of show for x years – they may not want his sidekicks. Things do go stale after a while.

    • The timebar , is that vieby the Courts as a restriction to be employed, and therefore unenforceable in law?

  15. What happened to the person who might have stolen the
    eeny meeny video and put it on the web
    Double stanards anyone

  16. There is much speculation about whether Top Gear can/should continue and if so, who will present it. One key point is the fate of producer Andy Wilman, who with Clarkson co-created the current format. If he retains his role it might influence the decisions of the other two presenters and ultimately determine whether the programme has a radical change of format.
    Have I Got News For You survived the loss of its regular presenter by having a series of guest hosts. Perhaps TG could adopt the same approach?
    Clarkson may even return to the BBC at some point in the future. After all, Jonathan Ross was sacked from his radio show after ‘Sachsgate’ but is now back on the BBC!

  17. How about this as a scenario…

    Clarkson has finally become bored with Top Gear at the BBC, but he doesn’t want to be seen as the slayer of the golden goose by leaving.
    He can call anybody, or any country, anything – and still not get sacked. The only way to go is by doing something drastic.
    So wait until your contract is up for renewal, do something drastic, and then turn yourself in.
    There’s a big fuss, he takes the rap, and his contract isn’t renewed (so he wasn’t “sacked”)and so walks away.
    Rival broadcasters beat a path to his door, and offer him the opportunity to take, what is basically his programme, to them.
    The production company, which I believe he has a stake in, also goes to the new broadcaster, and it all starts again.

    Quick, call Scully and Mulder, I feel a conspiracy theory coming on…

  18. Conspiracy theory or not, there’s no excuse for violence or bullying in the workplace (and I’ve always kind-of been a fan of Clarkson’s). One thing that’s really racked me off with this whole thing, though, is the way the producer in question was made out to be a bad guy by some factions of the media.

    From a previous life (working as the media contact for the manufacturer of the first reasonably priced car), I actually got to know the bloke, and of all the TG production crew he was always the easiest to deal with, a proper gentlemen, never over-demanding, always quite understanding when things didn’t go according to plan and would work with you to try and find a way round whatever issues were getting in the way of the production schedule, in circumstances where some of his colleagues would get riled, stroppy and shout at you because it made them feel better.

    So he got clobbered in the face and stood up for himself by refusing to take it lying down. Good man. I’d have done the same.

    If the perpetrator got the boot, fair enough. If I punched someone in the face at work, I’d expect to go. But then, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

    Nobody is above the law, and from what I’ve heard within the industry, I suspect Mr Clarkson may be about to find that out…

    • Once this became official it could only go one way in any PLC let alone a Public Corporation.

      However we have to ask ourselves the motive of the silence by the injured Producer as he did not report the incident to HR (or the Police for that matter) which you would have considered the only reasonable and proper thing to do. However also from the BBC report we see he refused any approach from Clarkson to meet so he could apologise. The issue then only coming to the attention of the BBC management when Clarkson himself reported the incident.

      The only reason I can see that can explain the Producers actions was that he was holding his ground until the “Fixer” arrived bearing gifts.

      Would go with James May comments about it being an issue that should have been resolved in 5 minutes and also why the BBC have not in fact sacked Clarkson, he still sits at home on full pay suspended until his contract expires. No doubt if they had sacked him, his lawyers could have presented numerous other case where much worse and more violent behaviour had been “quietly resolved” by the corporation.

  19. Well said, Mr Cheetham.

    Between the affair being made public and Clarkson’s well overdue sacking, Tymon has had the integrity to remain silent on the issue. Clarkson by contrast has not let any opportunity go by to mewl and puke, regardless of the appropriateness of the situation.

    It has taken until today for Clarkson to finally say publically that none of this was Tymon’s fault- until then Clarkson seemed, like some cowardly bully at the back of the class catalysing the troublemakers, as less mature TG fans threatened and demonised the producer.

    And to my knowledge, the Great White Ego has yet to express any regret for the incident, let alone the fact that he has single-handedly derailed the TG train with much collateral damage in terms of the jobs of the many people it employed. Or to TG fans even.

    I didn’t care for Clarkson very much before the fracas, but he’s really shown his true colours since. His behaviour would be very unbecoming of a young teenager- terms like ‘spoilt brat’ would have be used. But for a middle-aged man to behave this way? Is there any power high enough to truly show him the error of his ways?

  20. Perhaps the three of them can go to Channel 5 and reheat the ‘Jackass’ format, where instead three ageing blokes do lots of amusing things with cars and transport for their own amusement?

    Meanwhile, Top Gear could bring in some new presenters? Have alook around the motoring press. ‘Performance Car’ is no more, but there are lots of other magazines.

    Or bring in Charlie Brooker? Anthony French-Constant? Mariella Frostrup? Suzi Perry?
    Guest spots for Alexei Sayle, Rowan Atkinson, Jamiroquai and Richard Wilson? And of course for the ‘Woollarding Corner,’ William Woolard himself.

  21. Given his behaviour with verbal bullying and physical assault in the workplace I believe action had to be taken against Clarkson. Had he partaken of a number of sherbets before his outburst I wonder ? No excuse – just speculating.

    I’d also point out that spoilt brats in the premiership behave badly on the pitch week in and week out. Red card, on the benches for a few weeks and they are soon back again. Does the BBC make a fuss about this ? No. Double standards.

    Chris Evans may be a recognised car buff but he is a figure that I (and probably many others) cannot bear to watch or listen to. It would be a shame if he got to front the rebooted programme. I’d like to see Steve Coogan and Vicki Butler-Henderson. And they could have a guest presenter – much like on Have I got New for You – with one of the many names suggested already like Alexei Sayle, Rowan Atkinson, William Woollard. Lastly, most recent Top Gears did too much playing around like 9 year olds and didn’t make the most of the chat show format.

  22. @406v6,

    To point out the blindingly obvious, the BBC does not employ non-retired premiership footballers, therefore it is not down to the BBC to discipline them- that is done by the clubs that employ them, and, if necessary, the Football Association.

    So where is the hypocrasy that you speak of?

    • The reference to footballers is theri “antics” when the match is shown televised, live or edited, those obnoxious antics set a precedence and poor example of behaviour, behaviour which is unacceptable to decent people. society is poorer for the yobbish behaviour of footballers and so called fans of football, witness the Bradford Heysel stand fire, a spectator, his clothes on fire, the Police were trying to put out the flames, a group of soccer hooligans took the opportunity to also “stick the boot in”

      • Hasn’t most football long since migrated to the highest bidder (i.e. Sky) who then charge the users 3 times the license fee to watch what they had before for free?

        Besides, if it’s reported on the news, isn’t it a reflection of what’s happening in the world, otherwise the BBC might equally be blamed for the wars that they report on!

        The issue here is that the bad behaviour and violence in this case is being metered out by an individual working under contract to the BBC to an employee of the BBC.

  23. Has the Marina Owners Club offered any formal comment, or words of support for JC, yet?

    I see the BBC are saying that the show is king, so it will be interesting to see how that pans out 2016

    Personally I felt the show had got a little stale over the last couple of years, but I really was enjoying every episode in this series. It’s defintitely the end of an era (although I read Netflix are interested…)

  24. @MM,

    The antics of footballers is a red herring- irrelevant. And although I don’t watch many football games, those I have watched had not passed without comment when players or fans have behaved with depravity, either from the match commentator, the pundits who co-commentate, or during news programs- sometimes with sections of said news program dedicated to commentary, such as the biting antics of Luis Suarez.

    The BBC can discipline neither errant players nor fans. Are you suggesting that the BBC ought to censor news or coverage of such events in order not to cross some kind of line?

    The BBC hasn’t in fact sacked Clarkson (despite being within their rights to do so). They have simply not renewed his contract. So he’s actually being paid, at license payers expense, until his contract expires. As an employee of the BBC, who has brought the organisation into disrepute on a number of occasions, they had a duty to act, as he has refused to buckle down despite many warnings. Unless Tymon, and/or Yorkshire Police decide to prosecute, then he has pretty much got away ‘scot free’ (despite which he seems to be acting as he is the victim).

    Given that both Tymon and the Director General have received threats, and the BBC itself has been under fire from some quarters, the only party in this whole saga who isn’t a victim is Clarkson himself.

  25. I have to say that hearing Guy Martin’s name has been put in the fray which would make for a different and interesting programme. He can actually do stuff rather than have a team of boffins on hand to pander to the latest “ejection seat” whiz.

  26. I’d like to see Guy Martin as part of a rebooted Top Gear format. The show was getting stale and the three presenters were becoming a tad “up their own bottoms”.

    Not sure Guy would quite fit as a front man though. What ever happens, please do not put Chris Evans in the show. He annoys the hell out of me. His BBC radio 2 breakfast show is virtually identical every day and its target audience appears to be ten year old children. That Tarzan jingle that comes on at the start of the show just makes me want to smash the radio. Thankfully we have Sarah Cox for a couple of weeks before I go back to Radio 4!

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