Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson
Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson

Top Gear under threat as BBC suspends Jeremy Clarkson

JEREMY Clarkson may have presented his final edition of Top Gear after the BBC dramatically suspended the controversial presenter following an altercation with a producer.

The BBC announced that the hit show will not be broadcast this Sunday after the corporation was forced to pull Clarkson from screens.

The Radio Times reported last night that the presenter allegedly aimed a punch at a male producer earlier in the week, but that it was only reported to the BBC on Monday.

Executives then took the decision to suspend him yesterday.

The magazine said that two further remaining episodes have also been "postponed" pending further investigations.

It is the latest in a string of incidents surrounding the outspoken presenter. Clarkson was already on a final warning from the BBC following accusations of racism.

Danny Cohen, the BBC's director of television, who had previously warned Clarkson that "no one person is bigger than the BBC", is believed to have ordered the suspension, after receiving reports of the incident.

The BBC said:

"Following a fracas with a BBC producer Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended pending an investigation.

"No one else has been suspended.

"Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday.

"The BBC will be making no further comment at this time."

The cancelled Top Gear episode features Clarkson, 54, driving a Fiat 124 Spider and a guest appearance from Gary Lineker as the "star in a reasonably priced car".


Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson


With just two further episodes in the current series due to be screened, Top Gear may not reappear with its current line-up of Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May unless the presenter is cleared.

Clarkson was placed on his "final warning" last year following a racism row after claims that he mumbled the word "nigger"  while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe during the show's filming.

Ofcom rapped Clarkson when he appeared to mock Thai people during a Top Gear show last year by making a joke using the racist term "slope".

Clarkson, who has fronted the show since 2002, was saved from earlier disciplinary action over his use of the n-word by the intervention of Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General.

Mr Cohen was minded to suspend Clarkson at the very least, but Mr Hall stepped in and said Clarkson should be given a final warning.

"If I make one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time, I will be sacked," Clarkson revealed.

Clarkson and his presenting team were then forced to flee Argentina amid threats from locals who believed a number plate they used when filming last year's Christmas special was an offensive reference to the country's defeat in the 1982 Falklands War.

Mr Cohen is believed to have demanded immediate action over the latest incident since it stemmed from a disturbance involving another BBC employee.

The incident came to light while the Top Gear presenters are believed to be in negotiations over a new contract.

Losing Clarkson could hit one of the BBC's biggest assets. Top Gear is a huge cash cow for BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial wing, and is the world's most widely watched factual programme.

Asked last week if the BBC could retain Clarkson, Tim Davie, BBC Worldwide CEO, said: 

"We often have to deal with controversial personalities in a creative business. Jeremy and the team bring incredible skills to the programme and we're proud of them. They're on fine form."

Clarkson shared in Top Gear's riches, making more than £14m in 2012 after BBC Worldwide bought a controlling stake in Bedder 6, a firm formed in partnership with Clarkson to exploit the show globally.

Another company set up by Clarkson made a profit of almost £600,000 last year.

Top Gear insiders say the BBC has forced them to rein in their more ambitious stunts since the Argentina episode, which they blame for a drop in ratings.

Former Top Gear presenter Chris Goffey told BBC Radio 5 live: "When you've got a very strong character who likes things his own way, if somebody stands up to him, there's going to be a row."

If Clarkson is axed by the BBC, he will enjoy no shortage of offers from rivals. Sky would be in pole position to create a new format around Clarkson, who writes for the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun and Sunday Times.


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