The BBC was nuts to let former “Top Gear” presenter Jeremy Clarkson leave, according to the British broadcaster’s former director general.
Mark Thompson, now chief executive of the New York Times Company, said the BBC could “ill afford” to lose Clarkson to Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Clarkson was sacked last year after punching “Top Gear” producer Oisin Tymon because he was not served a hot meal after a long day filming.
“Clarkson can be a deeply objectionable individual, and I say that as a friend. I don’t think people should punch their colleagues. It’s hard to keep them if they do,” Thompson told The Sunday Times.
“But I would say his pungent, transgressive, slightly out-of-control talent was something the BBC could ill afford to lose. He spoke to people who didn’t find much else in the BBC.”
He added it was a “precious thing” that people could hardly believe that the BBC funded Clarkson’s antics and allowed “Top Gear” to be broadcast.
Thompson said this as someone who has experience of clearing up Clarkson’s mess. In 2009, the presenter called former Prime Minister Gordon Brown a “one-eyed Scottish idiot.”
Clarkson called Thompson up “out of the blue” and said: “I won’t apologise. I don’t care what you say, I won’t.”
Thompson explained: “We agreed that he would apologise for calling him ‘one-eyed’.”