The BBC has fired “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson for his involvement in a “fracas” with one of the show’s producers.
Here’s the BBC’s confirmation:
BBC boss Tony Hall says: “It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract.”
— BBC Newsbeat (@BBCNewsbeat) March 25, 2015
Here is the full statement from BBC director General Tony Hall, as provided by a BBC staffer:
Here is the summary of the BBC’s investigation into the event, by Ken MacQuarrie, the director of BBC Scotland.
The highlights include a description of the fight:
The incident makes Clarkson look really bad:
The statement from BBC chief Tony Hall, says that the decision comes with “regret,” but is hard-hitting elsewhere.
It notes that Tymon attended a hospital accident and emergency room following the “fracas” (a physical altercation) and that he sustained “prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature.” Hall adds that the situation has been “difficult for everyone involved,” and also concedes that Clarkson is a “huge talent” and says he’s sure the presenter will go on to entertain in the future.
At the time of writing, Clarkson had not reacted to the decision, but had updated his Twitter bio to “I used to be a presenter on the BBC2 motoring show, Top Gear.” Before, it read “I am probably a presenter…”
Earlier Wednesday morning, he tweeted that he had not heard the decision yet:
Just to keep everyone up to date, I haven’t heard a thing.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) March 25, 2015
The future of Top Gear, the show that Clarkson helped reel in a global audience of 350 million, now remains in the balance. The BBC statement says that the broadcaster will look to renew Top Gear for 2016, but mentions that it will “be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise.”
The move will at least in its current form end a TV franchise that gathers £50 million ($US74.6 million) in revenues for the BBC globally. The BBC will attempt to “reconstruct” the show around the other two presenters, Richard Hammond and James May, The Guardian reports. That move would be a huge surprise, given Clarkson’s outsize role and popularity on the show.
The Guardian says BBC director general Lord Tony Hall felt he had “little alternative” but to get rid of Clarkson. The Guardian has this great quote:
… a source close to the inquiry said: “There can’t be one rule for talent and one rule for ordinary human beings.”
Clarkson had already been suspended from his long-running job hosting “Top Gear.” He was sidelined after he reported the incident to BBC Television chief Danny Cohen.
The fracas took place after the producer failed to secure Clarkson the steak dinner he ordered after a long day of filming, according to various reports. In response, the BBC pulled three yet-to-be-aired episodes of the show’s 22nd season from its schedule.
“Top Gear” started on British TV in the late 1970s, but the current incarnation of the program kicked off in 2002. It has since grown into a broadcasting juggernaut, seen weekly in 200 countries by 350 million viewers.
Clarkson has been no stranger to controversy over his long career as both a broadcaster and newspaper columnist. In recent years, he was accused of using a racial slur in a segment of a “Top Gear” broadcast that was edited out, as well as provoking Argentines with a licence plate that may have referred to the 1982 Falklands War.
His suspension by the BBC divided fans and critics into two camps. Especially in Britain, where Clarkson is a prominent media celebrity, detractors argued that he should be kicked off “Top Gear.”
But his legions of fans worldwide lined up to support the 54-year-old. A million people signed an online petition calling for his reinstatement.
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