Jeremy Clarkson, one of the hosts of the popular BBC show “Top Gear” has been fired following a physical altercation with one of the show’s producers, according to BBC. Clarkson is no stranger to controversy, having been in hot water for a variety of statements and slips made on television, in addition to being an outspoken politico and journalist.
The first run of “Top Gear” began in 1988 and ended in 2000 but was revamped with a returning Clarkson in 2002 with co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond. He is often credited with being a primary reason why it is the most-watched show on BBC Two and has been rebroadcasted in over 100 countries. The program appeals to motor heads in addition to people who enjoy the tongue-in-cheek banter of Clarkson and the other hosts who participate in automobile races and challenges.
An investigation revealed that the dispute arose from Clarkson’s displeasure with a meal he had been given and resulted in producer Oisin Tymon being punched in the face. The North Yorkshire police department stated that Tymon has chosen not to press charges against Clarkson, and BBC has stated that the series will continue without Clarkson, whose contract has expired. The final two episodes of the current season also hang in the balance, many speculating that they will not be aired due to the incident.
Shortly after the news of Clarkson’s firing was leaked, a petition on Change.org was launched with the goal of reinstating him as “Top Gear” host. Over 1 million signatures were garnered within a matter of days, the site stating the petition was the fastest-growing in their history.
Clarkson has since made disparaging remarks toward the BBC, and even during his employment openly criticized the network’s handling of the "Top Gear." While the show’s next incarnation is unclear, the “Top Gear Live” global tour is set to resume. Fans from around the world have purchased an estimated 100,000 tickets to see the tour at various stops. The BBC has confirmed that Clarkson has agreed to resume the tour with the agreement that the former host would not speak out against them during the shows. The trio will visit England, South Africa, Australia and Norway, not under the “Top Gear” brand but instead titled “Clarkson, Hammond and May Live.”
The futures of Hammond and May are also undecided at the moment; the BBC has not made any announcement regarding their return or release from the show after Clarkson’s definite departure. It has been rumored that Russian television channel Zvezda has approached Clarkson in the hopes that he would host an automobile program for their network in the near future.
The show, which has been marked with nagging controversy at the feet of Clarkson for years, will be moving in a new direction, so long as the BBC deems it fit to reprise one of its most-popular and lucrative series.