► Jeremy Clarkson dropped by Top Gear TV
► BBC director general Tony Hall fires him over 'punch' fracas
► We look at the global media reaction
The BBC has fired Jeremy Clarkson and he is dropped from Top Gear TV with immediate effect, it emerged today.
The TV presenter and motormouth landed in hot water earlier this month on 11 March 2015 when the BBC suspended Clarkson - and the 22nd series of Top Gear - after the host allegedly punched producer Oisin Tymon in a late-night altercation over food in a Yorkshire hotel.
An internal investigation was led by Ken MacQuarrie, the director of BBC Scotland. The overall director general Tony Hall has now announced that Clarkson would be dropped. He said he 'had not taken the decision lightly' and admitted it would 'divide opinion,' but added that he simply couldn't condone violence against his own staff.
The inquiry noted: 'During the physical attack Oisin Tymon was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip. The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period, both at the time of the physical attack and subsequently... The physical attack lasted around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness.'
After a string of controversies including accusations of casual racism and several diplomatic incidents abroad, it seems that the future of BBC2's most successful export hangs in the balance.
Will the BBC really axe its most profitable programme? Can it be reinvented without Clarkson? Will they parachute in a guest presenter such as Chris Evans to accompany James May and Richard Hammond? Or could the bad boys of motoring simply jump ship and join ITV or Sky? Today's editorials are awash with analysis. We pick over the best commentary on Jeremy Clarkson's latest gaffe.
Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, Top Gear trio react on Twitter
Clarkson and May refer to themselves as 'former presenters,' in a telling reaction on Twitter. Hammond is more forthright, his tweet having an elegiac quality. We can't really see any of these three continuing on Top Gear, can you?
Tony Hall, director general of the BBC
'A member of staff - who is a completely innocent party - took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations... This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear.'
Source: official BBC statement
Jane Martinson, The Guardian leader writer
'Tony Hall was right not to take this decision lightly. His decision not to renew the contract of one of the BBC’s best-known presenters was his first big public test since he took over as director general. Not only did he have to set the damage from workplace bullying against the potential loss of £50m a year in Top Gear revenue. Or as Hall put it: “There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations." But he also had to weigh up the cost of criticism from those who believe the BBC is everything Clarkson is not – politically correct, leftwing, sanctimonious and humourless. Clarkson, with his laddish humour and dodgy jeans, appealed to a demographic who feel left out by calls for diversity – angry white men who somehow believe this fabulously rich, white, privately educated man made it against the odds at the BBC. It could almost be funny – though not in a Clarkson way – that the BBC, that bastion of white middle class men, is somehow considered antipathetic to a well-connected millionaire who makes jokes at others’ expense.'
Source: The Guardian
Piers Morgan, former Daily Mirror editor and one-time Clarkson enemy no.1
'It's been a busy day for 'tragic' news. You've been sacked, and Zayn's quit One Direction. But it's important to keep a sense of perspective. 150 people were killed in a plane crash in France yesterday including 16 young German teenagers on a school trip. That's real news, that's a real tragedy.
Source: Daily Mail
David Silito, BBC media correspondent
'The corporation has had to overhaul all of its policies and attitudes towards bullying and harassment, and a long verbal tirade and a physical assault would have crossed the line for any member of staff. Clarkson may be popular with the audience, and the BBC really did not want to lose him, but this was a star who admitted he was on his final warning and a corporation that was under intense scrutiny over what its top talent can and cannot get away with.'
Source: BBC News
Chris Evans, British broadcaster tipped to replace Clarkson
'This is not true. Not only is it not true - it's absolute nonsense,' he told listeners of his Radio 2 breakfast show. He added that him presenting Top Gear was 'never going to happen.'
Source: BBC Radio 2
Alan Yentob: creative director of the BBC on whether Top Gear will continue
'They are a team - they have worked together for a very long time, they are all very attached. The question of what happens next for Top Gear is a conversation which must go on between the controller of BBC Two Kim Shillinglaw, between Andy [Wilman - producer of Top Gear], and the team.'
Source: BBC News
David Hepworth: cultural commentator
'Guys like Clarkson are always on the points of being fired. That's their standard operating position. Wherever you paint the line, they go and stand just six inches the other side of it. It's a way of proving to themselves that they are who everybody seems to think they are. The downside is they get fired from time to time. It's the cost of doing business. In the case of Clarkson and Top Gear that firing would be very costly and messy for both parties because they've built the brand around him. Stories of actual or threatened punch-ups suggest that the relationship was reaching its natural end anyway. The problem is that people no longer do the natural thing, which is just walk away. TV shows nowadays can make so much money in syndication that they're kept going long after their energy has run out. Much like rock bands.'
Source: David Hepworth blog
Alex Proud: opinion piece in Daily Telegraph
'I suspect the trouble is that discovering you can make a lot of money and get very famous by being professionally obnoxious is a bit like The Force in Star Wars. It’s an amazing power to have but it comes with all sorts of temptations and it’s very hard to control.Unless you have a super-strong moral compass, it’s all too easy to go over to the dark side and, before you know it you’re living as a tax exile on the Isle of Man and reheating racist jokes from 1982.'
Source: Daily Telegraph
James May: Top Gear co-presenter tweeting after the suspension on 11 March
Deborah Orr: Guardian critic
'Why does the BBC put up with Clarkson? Why does Clarkson put up with the BBC? Surely, whatever the details of The Fracas, it’s time for a parting of the ways. It’s long been clear that Clarkson is either unwilling or unable to accept the limitations placed upon him by mainstream professional broadcasting. He is a popular figure but he is also a liability. Many public figures would understand that continually embarrassing your employer is an immature and pesky thing to do. Clarkson, however, seems to have no great love of the BBC. He does not seem to care about the damage that he does to it by continually courting controversy. His antics, on the contrary, suggest that he holds his employer in contempt and sees it as a bit of a mission, pushing the boundaries of what he sees as its political correctness.'
Source: The Guardian
Rod Liddle: journalist and broadcaster
'Top Gear is extraordinarily successful. Perhaps the most successful programme the BBC has produced in the last twenty years. A humungous, astonishing, success. And part of that is down to the fact that Clarkson is a very good presenter indeed; the best – alongside Attenborough and Humphrys – that the BBC has come up with in fifty years. And part of it is down to the fact that he doesn’t toe the usual PC line, demanded by shrill idiots like Orr – and indeed most of the rest of the BBC and Channel Four News. I don’t know what happened this time around. But I had the suspicion that they would get him, one of these days.'
Source: The Spectator
Daily Mirror: reports details of 'fracas'
‘Jeremy Clarkson was suspended from Top Gear after allegedly hitting a producer named as Oisin Tymon. It is claimed the host, 54, saw red with Tymon, 36, for not getting him dinner in time after filming for the BBC show in Newcastle. A source said: “Jeremy saw red over a catering issue. He just snapped…” It is said to have taken place after filming in Newcastle with co-hosts James May, 52, and Richard Hammond, 45.’
'The news will come as a huge blow to Clarkson who admitted, with some degree of understatement, that he has recently had a "difficult” last few months which culminated in him and the show's team being hounded out of Argentina after protestors took violent exception to the numberplate of the car he was driving.'
Gary Lineker: football critic and due to appear on Top Gear before it was cancelled
New York Times
'Top Gear... has become a phenomenon, sometimes described as the world’s most popular factual television program. Some 350 million viewers in 170 countries watch it each week. That makes it an important source of revenue for the BBC, and Mr Clarkson, who is paid about $1.5 million a year to present the show, is one of the organization’s most highly paid employees.'
Source: New York Times