[UPDATED] Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear host, suspended by BBC

Jeremy Clarkson

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended by the BBC “following a fracas” with a producer.

The corporation said the 54-year-old presenter had been suspended “pending an investigation”.

“No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcast this Sunday,” it said.

Clarkson was given what he called his “final warning” last May after claims he used a racist word while filming the popular BBC motoring show.

At the time, he said the BBC had told him he would be sacked if he made “one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time”.

The BBC gave no further details on the current incident involving Clarkson, and said it would not be making any further statements at this time.

Clarkson’s representatives have yet to reply to requests for a comment.

The presenter himself has remained silent, however last month he tweeted a post saying a “new presenter for Top Gear” was wanted.

“Applicant should be old, badly dressed and pedantic but capable of getting to work on time,” he said.

Top Gear

This weekend’s episode of Top Gear was set to feature Clarkson – who has fronted the show since 2002 – along with regular co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May at a classic track day.

Former footballer and pundit Gary Lineker was also to appear as the “star in a reasonably priced car”.

Lineker has now tweeted, writing: “I don’t think I’m ever meant to appear on Top Gear!”

‘Strong character’

Former Top Gear presenter Chris Goffey told BBC Radio 5 live while discussions on the programme sometimes became heated when he worked on the show, “it must have been something fairly serious behind the scenes to warrant his immediate suspension.

“I can’t think what the hell’s gone on, but there you go. 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.”

Clarkson has courted controversy on several occasions during his time hosting Top Gear.

Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Burma special
Top Gear was censured by Ofcom for using a “racial” term in its Burma special programme

The show’s executive producer, Andy Wilman, described last year as “an annus horribilis” for the programme.

It followed an incident in Argentina where the presenters and crew were forced to flee the country after trouble erupted over a number plate reading H982 FLK – which some suggested referred to the Falklands conflict of 1982.

Last year the show was also censured by Ofcom for breaching broadcasting rules after Clarkson used a derogatory word for Asian people during its Burma special programme.

TV critic Toby Earle: ‘He was on his final warning’

TV critic Toby Earle told the BBC he was not surprised at Clarkson’s suspension. “This incident is the one that’s really forced management to take action,” he said.

“Part of the show’s appeal, to many viewers, has been it’s sort of edginess and the fact that it’s rough around the edges – in some ways takes no prisoners.

“But of course there is a very delicate line to tread with that, and it has crossed that line I feel.”

But the TV Times’ Mary Evans said she did not think it was the end of the road for the presenter: “He is what he is, like him or loathe him.

“He knows who he is and he knows what he wants to say. Top Gear obviously existed before him, and it wasn’t the phenomenon that it is now. So obviously it has something to do with his personal charisma and his fanbase.

“I can’t see this will be it for Clarkson, I really can’t. But I think he’s probably slightly overdue a slap on the wrist,” she told the BBC.

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Top Gear controversies

With Clarkson at its head, Top Gear has been no stranger to controversy.

  • October 2014 – The show’s stars and crew had to abandon filming in Argentina amid angry protests over a car number plate that appears to refer to the Falklands War.
  • July 2014 – Ofcom ruled a Burma Special in which Jeremy Clarkson used a racial slur broke broadcasting rules. Clarkson had used the word “slope” as an Asian man crossed a newly built bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand.
  • May 2014 – The programme drew complaints when video footage leaked to the Daily Mirror appeared to show Jeremy Clarkson using a racist term while reciting the nursery rhyme Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe. The presenter later apologised for the incident – which was never broadcast – in a video statement where he “begged forgiveness”.
  • October 2012 – The BBC Trust ruled comments by Clarkson which likened the design of a camper van to people with facial disfigurements breached disability guidelines.
  • January 2012 – Indian diplomats complained about a 90-minute India special in which a car fitted with a toilet in its boot is described by Clarkson as “perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots.”
  • February 2011 – The BBC apologised to Mexico after Clarkson and his co-hosts characterised Mexicans as “lazy” and “feckless”.

 

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