Polls show Britain was falling out of love with Jeremy Clarkson long before the 'fracas'

Jeremy Clarkson and James MayMiles Willis/Invision/APTop Gear presenter James May (L) and Jeremy Clarkson (C) at a show on Absolute Radio in London on November 29, 2012.

Jeremy Clarkson was falling out with Britain way before his recent fracas with a BBC producer, according to data from YouGov. His approval ratings have halved in the last two years.

YouGov consistently ranks public personalities in terms of popularity. With Clarkson, the data runs back to 2011.

In the past 4 years, Clarkson’s notoriety has always been high: he has consistently been among the most-known TV people on YouGov, with a ranking in the 99th percentile for name recognition.

But Clarkson’s approval ratings have waned in the last two years. According to YouGov, back in 2013, eight out of 10 people who knew Clarkson had a positive image of him.

Last month, (ie: before the current suspension), only 4 out of 10 people viewed him positively.

Here is a graphic from YouGov. The light blue line indicates how many people know Clarkson, while the red one indicates how many of these people have a positive opinion of him.

You can see a big fall in Clarkson’s approval ratings in early May 2014: Around that time a video was published showing him chanting a nursery rhyme that featured the n-word.

It is important to point out that Clarkson has always been extremely well-known: the lower ratings aren’t due to people who have just recently got to know him and found they don’t like him; these are people who changed their opinion of him.

The BBC has started today its investigation over the pub fracas.

Clarkson is accused of having punched a BBC producer, Oisin Tymon, after he and the Top Gear crew went back to their hotel and were served a platter of cold cheese and meat because the kitchen had already been closed.

Clarkson, who was already on a final warning since the n-word issue last year, is reportedly considering quitting the BBC even if the investigation clears him of the accusations. He admitted the altercation, but claimed he did not punch Tymon.

The BBC is facing huge pressure over the issue: “Top Gear” is one of the most successful shows at the corporation; it is watched, on average, by 350 million people worldwide every week. The annual revenue the show pulls for the BBC commercial arm is about £150 million, according to The Telegraph.

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